The green tomatoes, fried and breaded with roasted red pepper puree and bleu cheese, were grown in the HCC Sustainabiity Garden. So were the flowers in the arrangements on every table, along with the spicy peppers used in one of the entrees, a pappardelle pasta dish, with smoked, free-range chicken, roasted apples and shallots.
Also on the menu: roasted and glazed acorn squash, pan-seared scallops and au graten parsnips, potatoes and leeks, along with an assorted of fresh cut vegetables from Red Fire Farm in Granby.
For dessert: sauteed, roasted butternut squash in a caramel sauce over maple ice cream.
And all of it prepared and served by students in HCC's Culinary Arts program during last week's Sustainable Harvest Dinner, the kick-off event in a planned, two-year focus on food at HCC called "One Campus, One Theme."
"We're actually in our fourth week," said HCC Culinary Arts teacher Warren Leigh, "so we're doing our first event a little earlier this year than we normally do with new students, which is great."
The "One Campus, One Theme" seeks to broaden students' understanding of the world by incorporating a single theme -- food -- into academic classes and coordinated activities.
About 65 students, faculty and staff attended the free dinner in the Picknelly Dining room on Thursday, Oct. 1 to celebrate and enjoy healthy food with a local flavor.
"This is really terrific," said HCC president Bill Messner. "Here's what's terrific: Number one, all of us being here tonight. This is a very eclectic group, which reflects Holyoke Community College. So we've got students, we've got faculty, we've got staff."
"What's also terrific," he said, "is why we're here tonight. The fact that this focus on food, this theme, is working its way through the college, through different classes, different activities, making different connections to the community. This represents what Holyoke Community College should be about, and it hopefully will enhance the learning experience for students, so students will seek connections between what they're doing in this class and that clas and what they're doing on campus and in the community as well."
There are two more big Culinary Arts events on the One Campus, One Theme calendar this semester: a Farmers Market Festival scheduled for Sunday, Nov. 1, in lower J parking lot, and a Columbian Exchange Dinner in The Picknelly Dining Room on Thursday, Nov. 19.
Photos by CHRIS YURKO: (Left) A pot full of locally grown butternut squash, ready to be turned into dessert. (Right) Culinary Arts students serve guests at the Sustainable Harvest dinner.