Fresh vegetables in large quantities are combined with from-scratch pizza dough and alfredo sauce with shredded parmesan cheese to attract customers’ interest.
Gregory J. Gefroh’s Basil Pesto Vegetable Kabobs and Roasted Asparagus, Artichoke, and Spinach Pizza at University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, ND Consumption of fresh vegetables during the past few years has jumped 15 percent at the University of North Dakota thanks to the creative approach of Gregory J. Gefroh, executive chef. Basil Pesto Vegetable Kabobs and Roasted Asparagus, Artichoke, and Spinach Pizza exemplify how Gefroh brings a fresh, healthful addition to residential dining. Both are served on theme dinner menus and a five-week rotation menu to students and staff. Though fresh produce comes in daily, local produce grown in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Montana comes in only during summer months. Vegetables available locally and at the Farmers Market in Grand Forks include red onion, sweet potatoes, cherry tomatoes, yellow squash, zucchini, and asparagus. Gefroh developed the Basil Pesto Vegetable Kabobs while he was competing in a contest at the farmers market. Wanting to utilize all the fresh vegetables and herbs available there, he added the basil pesto sauce to “really make the kabobs pop when the vegetables are basted in it.” When making a successful basil pesto sauce, Gefroh says sourcing the freshest possible basil and removing the leaves from the stems to eliminate a bitter flavor are crucial. “The sweet potato must be steamed then cooled before putting
on the kabob,” Gefroh says. “Otherwise the rest of the vegetables will get overdone.” Kabobs are grilled before serving. Roasted Asparagus, Artichoke, and Spinach Pizza came about during the process of developing scratch pizza dough and a from-scratch white alfredo sauce that provides a perfect background for bringing out the pretty colors of spring in the vegetables. “The key to making pizza in general is to start with a good dough,” Gefroh says. “We feel the combination of honey and olive oil in the dough gives it a nice texture.” The pizza dough recipe came about following an event two years ago at which students asked Gefroh if they could have a pizza party. “We invited them into Squires dining center on a Sunday, made them seven-inch personal pan pizzas and they picked toppings. They liked the crust so much we decided to produce it in volume for residential dining.” When making alfredo from scratch Gefroh advises always using shredded parmesan cheese. It melts nicely and has a smooth and creamy finish. Asparagus and artichoke are versatile spring vegetables that lend themselves well to multiple applications.” Photography by Charles Crummy, training manager, UND dining services
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