It's been a long time since I've found the packaging of a product so interesting that I read it all over, front and back, but that's what happened while my Easy Bean One Pot Meals were warming up in the microwave ! I love their silly sense of humour and fascinating nuggets of information that make you think 'ooh, I didn't know that' !
To set the scene, they say "We've BEAN cooking in our Somerset kitchens ! We think beans are pretty special and deserve a bit more culinary respect." They go on to explain that, inspired by bean and one-pot recipes from around the world, they use good, honest natural ingredients, nutritious pulses, chunky veg, infused with herbs and spices, to make a versatile meal in a pot.
I received two varieties to try, French Cuisinées and Moroccan Tagine.
The Moroccan Tagine recipe is a blend of chickpeas, aubergine and butternut squash with apricot, infused with aromatic spices. The packaging tells you about the origins of the recipe : "A staple dish of North Africa, and named after the vessel it is traditionally cooked in, our tagine is a hotpot of slow-cooked chickpeas, aubergines, butternut squash, courgettes and apricots in aromatic spices - very Moorish !"
Their fascinating facts about chickpeas reveal that the latin name for chickpea, Cicer arietinum, literally means 'small ram' because the shape looks like a ram's head, that an 80g portion of chickpeas counts as one of your 5 a day and that chickpeas were cultivated in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Admit it, you didn't know that, did you ?!
It's a fragrantly spiced but not spicy-hot dish that is full of flavour, perfect as a side dish with meat, on it's own with bread or, as we did, served over rice (with a slice of ham, because French Madhouse Daddy Mike wouldn't think it was real food if there wasn't some meat in there somewhere !).
The second pot that we tried was French Cuisinées - Green lentil and sweet chestnut simmered with classic vegetables, rosemary and thyme (uh oh, that's got me singing Simon & Garfunkel's "Scarborough Fair" now !).
The label explains : "The full title should be French Lentilles Cuisinées, as cuisinées simply means cooked, but we like simple ! This provincial classic is a popular choice in France and is typically served as a vegetable through the winter. We have given the recipe an authentic twist by adding sweet chestnuts. High in starch but low in fat, the chestnut makes a good substitute for potatoes and from its early origins in Mediterranean countries, it is used in stews, soups and as a flour to make delicious bread and pasta."
Well, I have seen chestnuts for sale in France, in tins and in tubes of purée, but I have never actually eaten them before. They're really nice - sweet and slightly nutty - and definitely an ingredient I'd now be inspired to experiment with in the kitchen.
Lentils are apparently more easily digested than other beans and are very high in protein, so this is a great dish for vegetarians. Again, it's delicious served over rice or couscous or as a stew with a hunk of homemade bread. For the meat-eaters, these pots would also be a fabulous way of using up left-over chicken or Sunday roast in an innovative way, adding a touch of exoticism with zero effort.
Each 320g pot contains 2 or 3 veg portions which is great news for those of you struggling to meet the 5-a-day target. They make a brilliant healthy instant supper as each pot only contains about 200-250 calories (211 for the tagine and 256 for the French cuisinées, but check the other varieties for their nutritional information).
star rating : 4.5/5
RRP : Vegetarian one-pot meals retail from £2.95 and those with meat from £3.35
for more information : www.easybean.co.uk
Other reviews you may be interested in :