hydroponic-grown herbs are used to liven up a charred chicken dish from dig inn

Freshen Up: FiDi Fast Food Finds with Hydroponic Farm Herbs

We work all day in a hydroponic garden, so we’re surrounded by beautiful, fresh, rare produce. We’re also lazy and hungry — half the time we end up eating at Hudson Eats in Brookfield Place, ICE's home. But then we modify our dishes with bold adaptations using ingredients from the garden — ingredients that normally end up in fine-dining restaurants.

We thought we’d share a few of our creations, to show how to freshen up your average fast food finds. Here’s our take on five of our everyday favorite lunchtime meals, all sourced from Hudson Eats.

Dos Toros Burrito

Burrito from Dos Toros in New York City

Farm.One’s Nic is a hungry regular at Dos Toros, known for coming back triumphantly with an almost illegally large burrito, leaving servers feeling skeptical they’ll keep their jobs because they’ve been too generous.  His advice is “Always ask for more. Always ask for extra cheese. Each server you go past is an opportunity to ask for a larger quantity, an extra spoonful. I normally say ‘Give me as much as you can give me’. They know me in line now. That doesn’t mean they necessarily like me. But they know me.”


While Dos Toros burritos are filling, we think they sometimes need an extra zing of freshness. So we add fresh chopped oregano, the bite of our beautiful fresh mini onions and a purple oxalis leaf, just because it’s beautiful and sour and rare and the opposite of food court cuisine.

Ingredients Dos Toros Burrito Fresh oregano Mini onions Purple oxalis

Northern Tiger lunch at Hudson Eats in New York City

Northern Tiger Tofu Cauliflower Curry This is a go-to vegan dish — especially when it’s cold outside and you’re just plain starving. I suspect that a different cook makes the curry sauce each day. I’m trying to figure out which cooks makes the thicker and spicier variety. When the sauce is watery and the cauliflower pieces are too large, this dish is a waste of time. But when it’s thick and spicy with carefully chopped cauliflower and a generous sprinkle of scallions on top, it’s delicious.

My secret baller dream is to be able to have this dish served specially with the brown rice and across the food court from Blue Ribbon Sushi (so we can take advantage of their sake to-go). Until then we can elevate it with some fresh herbs, plus some spice and kick from hot sauce and toothache plant shavings.

Ingredients Northern Tiger Tofu Cauliflower Curry With Rice Cilantro Luke Wu’s Ghost Pepper Hot Sauce Local Micro Ishikura Long Winter Bunching Onion Marigold petals Toothache button, shaved

Skinny Pizza at Hudson Eats in New York City

Skinny Pizza We hate going to Skinny Pizza because they don’t have the buzzer thingy to tell you when your order is ready, so you have to hang out standing like a weirdo among all the tourists waiting for their custom pizzas (no locals ever eat at Skinny Pizza — it’s way too slow).

Once in a while, this is a pretty good pizza option. The crust is usually crunchy without being crappy and dry. I have no idea if the “skinny” pizza is somehow “healthier,” but I do know it tastes better with some help from our herb friends.

If you pick a custom pie you can discard most of the unnecessary toppings and just go for something simple. Their fresh arugula is supposed to go on after it comes out of the oven, but it will inevitably be either forgotten or put on before it goes in the oven, which destroys it. Usually, we open up the box, check that it’s been forgotten and then politely ask them to put the arugula on.  

Back at the garden, we garnish with a big handful of purple basil and tear it up as we eat each slice. Violas are over-the-top for this dish but they grow like crazy so we always have a few floating around in the farm. We throw a couple on and it feels so luxe.

Skinny Pizza at Hudson Eats in New York City

Ingredients Skinny Pizza Make-Your-Own Tomato Roasted Garlic Caramelized Onion Arugula Pizza Amethyst Basil Violas

Dig Inn at Hudson Eats in New York City

Dig Inn, Elevated

Dig Inn is the warhorse of Hudson Eats, with a line stretching around the corner every single lunchtime. Maybe people like it because each bowl they serve seems to have around 13 tablespoons of olive oil.

David is a night owl and normally ends up ordering lunch at around 3pm, letting it cool while he answers emails and eventually eating it at 4pm or even 5pm in a meeting. But then again, 3pm is the only time at Dig Inn when you can chat with the server and ask for extras, like “just a taste” of their chiles or side of sauce or whatever you fancy. We like to plate their most popular combo — charred chicken on a bed of greens with sweet potato — with flowers, red-veined sorrel and microgreens to elevate this simple bowl to silly fancy-ness.

Ingredients Dig Inn Charred Chicken on Bed of Greens With Sweet Potato Ruby Streaks Mustard Red Veined Sorrel Nasturtium Flower

Dig Inn at Hudson Eats in New York City

Juice Press Blue Ribbon Saketini

Every day we have a standup meeting at 10am. If a team member is late, the punishment is to buy a Juice Press juice for someone else on the team — a costly mistake as Juice Press prices are bankruptcy-inducing. If you want to spice up a boring Friday lunch while feeling somewhat virtuous, make a quick cocktail out of the “One Cup” sake drinks from Blue Ribbon Sushi and a splash of green Juice Press juice.

Serve in that martini glass you clandestinely brought down to the food court in your pocket. If you like, dust the rim with salt from a sachet stolen from Mighty Quinn’s Barbecue and garnish with a bright, sour wood sorrel flower and wood sorrel leaves. Sip while other food court attendees look on 20%-judgmentally, 80%-jealously. Replenish until your juice and sake are spent. Then go buy a draft beer from Mighty Quinn’s as penance for the stolen salt.

Juice Press and Blue Ribbon drinks from Hudson Eats in new York City

Ingredients Juice Press OMG! Juice Kiku-Masamune One Cup Sake Wood sorrel leaves Wood sorrel flower

Juice Press and Blue Ribbon drinks from Hudson Eats in new York City

Want to study culinary arts at a state-of-the-art facility with an indoor hydroponic garden? Click here for information on ICE’s career programs.