Gardein recently released a new line of products, “Skillet Meals: Meatless Meal for Two!”
I’m not a big fan of processed, frozen food, and I try to limit my intake of faux meats and cheeses. But, when I saw four varieties of these new Skillet Meals at my local Charlotte Harris Teeter (Morrocroft, aka The Taj MaTeeter), I HAD to buy them ALL to try! (My vegan curiosity always gets the best of me!)
I decided to try the Chick’n Fiesta first – a Southwestern entree with three kinds of beans, bell peppers, corn, brown rice, and of course Gardein’s famous cruelty-free “chicken.”
Preparation was super-simple, and did indeed take approximately nine minutes as claimed on the package.
First, you add a tablespoon of oil to a ten-inch skillet and the contents of the bag – minus sauce pouch! (I warmed the oil first before adding the frozen ingredients.) You then cover and cook over high heat for five minutes, stirring occasionally to keep from burning.
While this is going on you’re supposed to be soaking the sauce pouch in a bowl of hot water for six to seven minutes. I cheated and thawed it for a minute in the microwave, until it reached a still sorta frozen but squishy consistency.
After five minutes, you add the contents of the sauce pouch to the skillet and stir.
You then cook uncovered for another two to four minutes.
The bag makes two servings. I divided the food in half, measured, and determined each serving is one cup.
To bump up the flavor, I garnished with cilantro microgreens – or, as my friend Rob would say, added a little “nuisance” on top. OMG!
What I Liked About Gardein Chick’n Fiesta:
The sauce. Very, very tasty!
A variety of beans. Not just the de rigueur vegan black beans, but also kidney and pinto beans. (Seriously, who is the person who decided all vegans love black beans! I’d really love to meet him/her and give them a good slap! …. err, I mean a good talking to!)
It was truly quick and easy.
It was filling. Although a man with a hearty appetite might want more than just a cup, or need to eat it with a side.
The price is reasonable – $7.99 for two servings (or about $4 per serving). A typical Amy’s frozen meal runs $4.99 at HT. A Sweet Earth entree runs $3.99. Buy this on sale or with a coupon, and you’ve gotten a good deal.
What I Thought Could Have Been Better:
The chick’n. Part of that is my fault – I should have continued cooking the skillet meal until the chick’n was thoroughly browned before adding sauce. Aside from that, I thought the chick’n could have used some seasoning “built in”. You’re not cooking it long enough for it to absorb much flavor from the sauce. That being said, it wasn’t bad, and it should satisfy most vegans and vegetarians – but it won’t fool omnivores. This will not be the frozen dinner you convert all your family and friends with.
More rice. May be a personal preference, but the brown rice seemed almost like an afterthought.
The nutritional value was something else I liked about this meal. While a one-cup serving has a lot of sodium (like every other processed meal), it has 17 grams of protein, 35% DV of Vitamin A, 70% of Vitamin C, 20% Iron, and 8% Calcium. And, of course, zero cholesterol. That’s better nutrition than you usually get from a frozen, processed meal.
Would I recommend this? Definitely. As I said before, I’m not the biggest fan of processed food or faux meats, but taste-wise, nutrition-wise, and cost-wise, this is definitely one of your better options!