See what we at VF&L HQ thought of a selection of the latest vegan ready meals to find their way to the shops…
Creamy Mac – The Plantifull Food Co
£3.70, gluten-free £3.90 300g
Plantifull’s cheesy offering delivers all that it promises in a delicious, smooth package. With an ideal serving of rich, thick sauce and a decent portion of macaroni, it’s indulgent without busting the bank, nor the waistline.
The sauce itself goes beyond just being creamy though. The flavours are quite bold and almost spicy, with hints of tomato, mustard, garlic and black pepper layered over a subtle, almost cheesy baseline. The spinach and tomatoes add a different texture throughout, breaking up the luxuriousness with a little bit of fresh bite.
If there’s anything to criticise, it might be that for those who like a good size portion, there might not be enough for a full dinner on its own. It will happily cater for a small dinner and they definitely make for a great lunch.
‘Shroomy Risotto – The Plantifull Food Co
When you buy a ready-made risotto, you don’t expect it to be as creamy and perfectly al dente as one you started making fresh 20 minutes ago. In this case you’d be wrong! The perfect level of comforting creaminess is matched by a powerful flavour. Packed with mushrooms – and not just your standard button variety – fans of the natural superfood will love it.
It’s clearly been prepared in a stock that’s packed with great ingredients, as the herb and onion are strongly apparent, adding to the depth of flavour. Added to that, its got B12 in there, doesn’t feature palm oil and is even suitable for coeliacs. Due to the size it’s more of a lunchtime portion, but ready in the microwave in just 3 minutes, team it with a salad or bread and you’ve got the perfect quick midweek evening meal too.
Veggie Tikka Masala & Rice – M&S
Marks & Spencer hasn’t really made a big fuss about their new Veggie range, which features many clearly labelled vegan dishes. If this one is anything to go by, they probably should! Definitely not one for those that don’t like mock meats, this mild curry features a generous portion of marinated soya chunks that look like chicken, and have a remarkably similar texture.
The sauce is pleasingly tomatoey with just the right amount of spice for a mild curry – you can eat it without crying, but there’s definitely a good depth of flavour and you’re left with a warm tingle in the mouth. It comes with a good serving of pilau rice and the soya chunks make it quite filling, so teaming it with naan bread is definitely optional!
Wicked Kitchen Gunpowder Potato Chana Masala – Tesco
This flavoursome one pot is packed with lots of delicious ingredients from saffron rice to chickpeas, greens and potatoes, so it feels quite healthy and like you’re getting a balanced meal. The plentiful spices used to make the chana masala adds a nice level of heat – a good kick but gentle enough for those with a more delicate palate – while the potatoes add hints of lemon and definitely fill you up, and the greens give a slightly bitter tang.
There is enough sauce to lightly coat the rice, so it’s far from dry, but there isn’t so much of it that your plate ends up swimming in it. The perfect option for a quick microwave meal for one on a busy day, as it’s ready in just 4 minutes!
Polpette Orzo – Allplants
If you’re looking for something a bit different for dinner, this will really hit the spot. A Mediterranean ratatouille enrobes delicate orzo and is joined by three plump, almost meaty brown rice and walnut polpette balls. The orzo makes a lovely alternative to pasta, while the sauce contains good sized chunks of pepper, aubergine, red onion and tomatoes, so there’s an array of colour as well as getting good fresh veg.
The polpette have a slightly crunchy exterior, which adds a bit of texture, and they’re well seasoned with black pepper to combat the sweetness of the sauce and add a mild kick of heat. The only downside is that it’s a delivery service, so the best way is to buy in bulk – and you’ll need to have room to store them in your freezer – and so you have to plan ahead rather than just popping to the shop to buy them.
Pad Thai – Amy’s Kitchen
This is a pad Thai with a difference, the recipe a nod to the more traditional take on the dish. The sweet and sour sauce adds a really lovely flavour and takes away the risk of dryness that some pad Thais can be accused of. Along with plump rice noodles, which makes this gluten-free as well as vegan, this dish features small chunks of tofu plus a scattering of different vegetables from carrots to broccoli and onion.
The julienned carrots are plentiful, but if we had one suggestion it would be to have a little more broccoli, or some other veg in addition. We really liked the addition of baked cashews to the sauce rather than peanuts as it adds a really different element, although again it would be nice to have a few more. Definitely a good choice for something different to the norm. You can find this in Asda.