I would be lying if I said that I am not a competitive person. A couple months ago, The School Food Project, a contracted group of chefs that have come to Boulder Valley Schools in order to "better" the nutrition and do a complete over haul on the school food service program, announced that they were going to have an Iron Chef competition between all of the district High School culinary programs. Immediately I thought this sounded like it would be a great opportunity for my students and a great way to represent my program so I agreed to enter the contest.
Part of the contest was that it had to meet the USDA standards for school nutrition and be under $1.30/serving. Many people have seen the show Iron Chef on the Food Network. The chefs on this show create impeccable dishes using only the finest ingredients. We however had to make sure that our "gourmet" creations were coming in under our dollar and change budget. Having a background in nutrition and Dietetics, I began to think about what food schools were subsidized with and types of dishes were conducive to the palate of a the k-12 lunch line participant. With the help of my catering class we came up with a dish that represented the comforting, nostalgic, nutritious, yet ecstatically pleasing with an array of color and texture.
Here is the winning dish that will be served at all schools in Boulder Valley School District next year. I suggest making this recipe for an eclectic representation of your past and and a healthy alterative to comfort food!
Better Sloppy Joes
8 servings, generous 1/2 cup filling each
- 12 ounces 90%-lean ground beef
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 2 cups finely chopped mushrooms, (about 4 ounces)
- 5 plum tomatoes, diced
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 T. cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup chili sauce
- 1/4 cup natural ketchup
- 8 whole-wheat hamburger buns
Crumble beef into a large nonstick skillet; cook over medium heat until it starts to sizzle, about 1 minute. Add onion and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until the vegetables are soft and the moisture has evaporated, 8 to 10 minutes.
Add tomatoes and flour; stir to combine. Stir in water, vinegar, chili sauce and ketchup and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened and the onion is very tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve warm on buns
4 servings, about 1 cup each
· 2 cloves garlic, unpeeled
· 1/ 8 cup agave nectar or honey
· 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
· 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
· 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
· Salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste
· 2 cups grated jicama
· 1 cup shredded carrots
· 1 cup grated Granny Smith apple
Heat a dry, heavy skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium heat. Add garlic, and roast, turning occasionally with tongs, until blackened in spots and soft, about 10 minutes. Peel, removing tough ends.
Combine the roasted garlic, apple cider, oil, vinegar and mustard in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
Combine jicama, carrots and apple in a salad bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Taste and adjust seasonings.