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On the Menu: Corvallis Classic

Vegetarian entrée a hit with college crowd

Jay Perry's culinary pursuit has taken him from his hometown of San Diego to the kitchens of France, Italy, Seattle, and Portland. Jay now serves as the Chef de Cuisine at Oregon State University in Corvallis where he has become a partner with The College of Public Health & Human Sciences in creating healthier choices for students using whole grains. His most recent accolades are winning silver medals from UMass Amherst at the Flavors of the World Challenge and the NACUFS culinary challenge. He donates his time to local school programs, teaching future culinarians the art of cooking (and eating) healthy foods.


Chef Jay Perry

eeding hungry college students is always a challenge, but this dish succeeds with a heartstring’s tug on the comfort foods of home, plus an added bonus in that it is vegetarian.

The Baked Casarecce and Grilled Kale “was inspired by the local flavors of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, my love for Italian cuisine, and the dishes that our students crave,” says Chef Perry. “Native morel mushrooms are the gems of the region that surround our Corvallis campus—you can venture out to any wooded area, and you’d think you struck gold!”

Mac and cheese is always a popular item, especially for students who are missing the comfort of home cooking, says chef, so he pairs the morels with a creamy cheese sauce and Barilla’s casarecce pasta. The grilled kale—a vegetable that’s seen a rise in popularity in recent years—adds a layer of charred, smoky flavor. “The finishing element of this dish is vibrant lemon oil,” the chef enthused, “which was inspired by my love for the Toscana region of Italy, with its beautiful, bountiful lemon trees.”

Baked Casarecce in Mascarpone Cheese Sauce with Morels, Grilled Kale, and Lemon Oil


7-1/2 oz dried shiitake mushrooms
5 cups extra virgin olive oil
20 lemons, zested
Kosher salt
18 oz unsalted butter
5 oz whole morel mushrooms, cleaned
3-3/4 lb Barilla Casarecce
2 cups canola oil
1-1/4 lb minced leeks
5 oz. minced garlic
1-1/4 lb fresh morel mushrooms, sliced 1/4 inch thick
15 cups heavy cream
5 T vegetable base
2-1/2 lb mascarpone cheese
30 oz shredded Gruyere cheese
3 T salt
2-1/2 tsp pepper
10 sprigs fresh thyme, minced
3-1/8 lb lacinato kale
5 cups panko breadcrumbs
10 oz shredded Parmesan cheese


1. Make the mushroom powder: Spread the dried shiitakes on a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes in a 325-degree oven. Grind the mushrooms to a powder.

2. Make the lemon oil: Working in batches, blend the oil and lemon zest with a pinch of salt in a high-speed blender to emulsify.

Refrigerate until service.

3. Make the morel garnish: In a large pan, melt 10 oz. butter and sauté the whole morels until slightly tender. Add water as needed to help braise.

4. Cook the pasta for half the time indicated on the package. Drain pasta and drizzle with some olive oil to prevent from sticking. Place pasta flat on sheet trays or hotel pans and cool in a blast chiller. Alternatively, cool it down in a walk-in cooler. Store in zip lock bags or sealed plastic container; refrigerate and use within several hours.

5. Make the cheese sauce: Heat 8 oz. butter and 4 oz. canola oil in a large saucepan. Sauté the leeks and garlic until translucent. Add the sliced morels and sauté until tender. Stir in the cream and vegetable base and reduce the liquid by half. Do not let it boil. Whisk in the shiitake mushroom powder.

6. Off the heat or over a double boiler, whisk in the mascarpone and gruyere to melt. Season with the salt and pepper and thyme. Set aside.

7. Toss the kale with 8 oz. canola oil. Grill the kale for 1 minute on each side to slightly char and mark it. Chop it into 1/2-inch dice.

8. Stir the pasta and three-fourths of the kale into the cheese sauce until well combined. Spray two deep hotel pans with oil and divide the pasta mixture between them. Smooth the surfaces, cover with parchment, and foil and bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes.

9. In a bowl, combine the panko, 4 oz. canola oil, the remaining kale, and the Parmesan.

10. For each serving, to order: Cut a square and top it with some of the panko mixture. Reheat the pasta in the oven. Plate and garnish with lemon oil and whole morels.

Kathleen Stoehr

Kathleen Stoehr is the Director of Community & Content Strategy for Informa Connect | Catersource, which includes print and digital content, as well as live education at both Catersource, the Art of Catering Food, and Leading Caterers of America Executive Summit.