The Best Vegetarian Meals in the DH

Notre Dame students love to complain about their dining halls. Whether you’re a die-hard North enthusiast or just plain wrong, I’m sure you still complain about your beloved dining hall and its repetitive, ill-prepared food and how “there’s just never anything to eat.” 

 

I’ve been there, too. I’ve been a vegetarian for about ten years now, and I regularly grumble about the dining hall and its “complete lack of options.” To be honest, though, the ND dining halls are nowhere near as bad as I exaggerate. The dining halls may fail to wow me every single time I eat there, but they have a wide array of options available at every meal, even for those of us who are vegetarian. The dining hall regularly makes an honest effort to serve vegetarian-friendly foods, and even though they do not always succeed, some of the vegetarian meals are actually a smash. Here are my top five favorites:

 

  1. 1. Pierogis

    They’re basically noodles filled with potatoes and cheese. The sheer amount of warm, buttery carbs warms my heart from the inside out. Fried up with some onions, pierogis are a great meal to eat on a Sunday evening when you’re missing your mom’s homemade cooking and just want to load up on some vegetarian-friendly carbs. 

  2. 2. Stir Fry

    If you’re willing to wait in line for stir fry, it’s a fantastic way to load your plate up with veggies. I like to fill a large bowl or plate with all of them, including, but not limited to, carrots, cabbage, peppers, onions, mushrooms, water chestnuts, bean sprouts and broccoli. Add some plain or crispy tofu to create a balanced meal full of protein and top off with whatever sauce you want. You can add rice or noodles if you want, but I like the variety of veggies to star in my stir fry. By the end of your meal, you will realize that it is possible to feel totally satisfied, and maybe even uncomfortably-full, from a meal composed of almost totally veggies.

  3. 3. Grain and Almond Stuffed Pepper

    The dining hall seems to serve the elusive Grain and Almond Stuffed Pepper only about once a month, as far as I can tell. The meal consists of a large red pepper chock-full of quinoa, almonds, raisins (weirdly, they really work in the recipe) and black beans. It’s all topped with some sort of avocado and red pepper sauce. To be completely honest, there’s a lot going on in the Grain and Almond Stuffed Pepper, and at times some of the ingredients may confuse your taste buds, but they will also wow them. If you ever do see them in the dining hall, grab two stuffed peppers right away. You won’t regret it. Actually, now that I think about it, I have yet to see this meal served in the dining hall this semester. (If anyone working at the dh is reading this, please bring it back! Or let me know when you serve it? Us vegetarians will love you forever.)

  4. 4. Southwest Tofu Scramble

    I love the Southwest Tofu Scramble. Its sister meal, Denver Tofu Scramble is good, too, but the black beans, peppers and onions of the Southwest version really get me. As a veggie-lover, I like to start my day off with a plate of Southwest Tofu Scramble piled on top of a nice bed of raw spinach (I know, I’m that weird girl who’s trying to just grab just spinach from the omelet bar during  breakfast. Like, who wants a salad at 9 a.m.? Me, that’s who.) The tofu scramble is a tasty, nutritious alternative to eggs, and it’s full of protein and fat to help get you through you a day full of classes. 

  5. 5. Kung Pao Cauliflower

    Kung Pao Cauliflower, my one true love. An actual transcript of my texts to my friends upon seeing it on the menu: FREAKING KUNG PAO CAULIFLOWER. AT NORTH. TONIGHT. OMG. BE THERE OR BE SQUARE. Even though I know that North serves Kung Pao Cauliflower every other Saturday, I still feel so much joy in my heart (and in my stomach) when I see it on the menu. The Kung Pao Cauliflower smashes (Usually. There have been a few sad instances when it was just good, not fantastic, but let’s not think about those dark times). Kung Pao is a great example of the dining hall putting a great effort into offering some more interesting meat-alternative foods. I know that most people would rather line up for Kung Pao Chicken, but the cauliflower version is delicious and a real blessing for us vegetarians. Cauliflower loses most of its nutritional value in this meal as it is breaded, deep-fried and covered in kung pao sauce, but I don’t care. The red peppers and snap peas mixed in add just enough veggies for me to lie to myself that this is a “healthy” meal. Pair it with a salad if it makes you feel better but, please, do not pass up trying the Kung Pao Cauliflower, especially if you are vegetarian. It will change your life.

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Photos 1, 2. Photo 3 provided by author.