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Quick and Light Meals from Riverford:
While I love Riverford organic foods, I am not usually a recipe box user. I’ve been cooking meals from scratch for years – growing up in a small town in Norfolk without the benefit of a supermarket and with a mother who hated cooking, I learnt at an early age. I generally enjoy shopping and creating something out of whatever I happen to find that is good in the shops or at market.
But, the world has changed a lot and if you have a busy schedule with little chance to cook and even less chance to shop for food, you may find recipe boxes work well for you. They are also great at providing inspiration – once you’ve cooked a dish using the box and the ingredients, you should be able to do it again. So, if you want to build up a portfolio of dishes you can make, recipe boxes are a good option to try without committing to full-size jars of spices etc.
Many recipe boxes are just too much for someone like me who generally cooks for just one or two people and is out several nights of the week. But, a glance at the Riverford quick and light meals convinced me it would be worth trying. They will deliver a box containing either 2 or 3 meals for 2 people, each with a calorie count of under 500 per person. The recipes are designed to be quick to make and the boxes cost £29.95 for two meals for two or £39.95 for 3 meals And, they do sound pretty appetising – the sort of food I’d cook for myself anyway. Steak with roasted ratatouille and aioli, chicken and spinach balti with basmati rice and mango chutney, leek, mascarpone and lemon gnocchi with hazelnut and parsley pesto and more…There are vegetarian options too, although personally, I’d have liked to have two non-veggie meals as part of my two meal box – while the Riverford default is to provide one vegetarian meal in each box.
Everything looked very appetising, though, so I jumped at the chance to review – and my meal box arrived early on Thursday morning last week. It contained the ingredients for herby pork escalopes with roast tomatoes and courgettes and for a second meal of mushroom and leek dahl with cucumber raita. Both sounded delicious and both came in at just under 500 calories per person. I opened the box to find neat compartments containing the ingredients. Each of the spices and flavourings was packed into little plastic tubs and there were individual poly bags of herbs to use. One slight issue, I suspect the ‘curry spices’ pack hadn’t been properly sealed – and it was packed in the same compartment as a lemon. During transit, the lid had popped off and the result was a box with a lot of loose mustard seed cumin and curry leaves. Not a big problem for me as I have the spices at home anyway, but for someone relying on the kit, it could have stopped them cooking that particular dish.
It was the herby pork escalope which immediately took my fancy. The pack contained two good portions of pork escalopes – we did manage to eat the lot between us, but it would easily have stretched to three if not four people with the addition of a few potatoes or some rice. And, it involved roasting courgettes and tomatoes and then wilting some watercress for extra flavour. I was impressed that everything other than salt, pepper and cooking oil was included – even 100ml of white wine (to cook with – not to drink!).
The recipe really did take me less than half an hour from start to finish. I was pleased that the vegetables were not pre-cut, something which I believe degrades the results very quickly if the cut vegetables are stored for any time. And, I loved the addition of wilted watercress. I’m sure I will end up adding it to other recipes of my own pretty soon because it really did add a subtle peppery taste to the dish.
For those who are interested, the recipe is below.
- 1 tablespoon Capers
- 250 g Cherry Tomatoes
- Oil for roasting & frying I used olive oil to roast the vegetables and coconut oil to fry the meat
- Salt and Pepper
- 2 Courgettes
- 50 g Watercress
- 30 g Parsley
- 1 Lemon
- 2 Garlic Cloves
- 300 g Pork Escalope this may be 2 large or 4 smaller escalopes. This recipe would work with chicken or turkey escalopes too.
- 100 ml White Wine
- 1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
- Preheat your oven to 200c (180 for fan ovens)/Gas 6 . Put the capers in a mug of cold water to soak.
- Cut the tomatoes in half and place them on a roasting tray cut side up. Drizzle them with oil and season with salt and pepper. Put them in the oven for 12 minutes
- Wash and trim the courgettes. Cut each one in half lengthways and then in half again to make long tapered batons
- Wash and dry the watercress and the parsley. Remove the stalks from the parsley and save the leaves
- Remove the tomatoes from the oven and push them to one end of the roasting tray. Lay the courgettes out on the empty side, drizzle with oil and season them. Put the tray back in the oven for a further 12 minutes
- Zest the lemon. Peel the garlic and drain the capers. Finely chop the lemon zest, capers and parsley.
Chop the garlic and put to one side.
- Heat some oil in a frying pan (I used coconut oil here). Season the escalopes with salt and pepper and add to the pan, along with the garlic (The original recipe suggests adding the garlic with the lemon and parsley mixture, but I found the result was too strong for my taste). Cook the escalopes on a high heat for one minute on each side.
- Add the wine to the frying pan along with the lemon zest, capers and parsley. Riverford suggests adding the garlic at this stage too - I think this may be something to adapt to your own taste. Let it bubble away until the wine has reduced by a half. I found this took 2-3 minutes, though the original recipe stated 30 seconds. Stir in the Dijon mustard and leave to rest
- Remove the courgettes and tomatoes from the oven. Add the watercress to the pan and stir to wilt it. Taste and adjust the seasoning
- Pile the vegetables onto plates and top with the escalopes. Serve with wedges of lemon
In the meanwhile, if you are interested in trying the Riverford quick and light box for yourself, you’ll find more information on their website.