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Mercyhurst ahead of curve with allergen-free station

Friday, October 21, 2016

In years past, students with food allergies arrived on college campuses with concerns that dining halls didn’t know how to handle.  But as the ranks of traditional-age undergraduates with food allergies has grown, so has the university response.

At Mercyhurst University, where food service partner Parkhurst Dining has long provided options for students with allergies, the newly renovated Grotto Commons dining hall now offers a chef-attended allergen-free station called The Clean Plate.

Dean Schoenfeldt, senior general manager of Parkhurst at Mercyhurst, said, “Allergen stations are typically self-serve, so this is a differentiator for Mercyhurst.”  The station features a steam, turbo-chef oven and a gas-burner stove with a menu cycle just like any other station. 

Mercyhurst students with food allergies can select menu items that appeal to them and have the social experience of eating with their friends.

Schoenfeldt said the Parkhurst team was able to eliminate major food allergens associated with milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts and wheat. “The key is the relationship that executive chef Marcy Fickes is building with the students,” he said. “Chef Marcy works closely with those students and creates menu items that not only accommodate their diet restrictions but make them feel like everyone else.”

Chef Marcy agreed to share one of The Clean Plate’s popular dishes:

Gluten-Free Sausage Kale Pasta

2 cups  Broccoli florets cut into 1/2" pieces

1 lb  Gluten-free penne pasta (dry)

2 cups Fresh kale, chopped

1/2 lb Mild sweet Italian sausage (remove casing and pre cook)

1 tsp Ground black pepper

1 tsp Ground kosher salt

1 tsp Lemon juice

1 tsp Grated Romano cheese

Add 2 quarts of water to a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil, add broccoli and cook until half done (2-3 min).  Remove from boiling water and place in a bowl of ice water to shock the broccoli and stop the cooking process. Using the same water, add the gluten-free pasta and boil for 5-7 minutes or until pasta is tender. Remove pasta and place in a mixing bowl. Heat sausage to 165 degrees.  Add pasta to cooked sausage and saute an additional 1 minute. Add broccoli, kale, black pepper, salt and lemon juice and saute for an additional 2 minutes. Place meal in serving bowl and top with grated cheese.

Prep Time: 20 minutes   Cook Time: 20 minutes  Serves: 4