When I have the time, I really enjoy cooking meals from scratch and trying out new recipes, however, time is quite scarce these days as we all seem to be juggling so many different things at once! This is why I was curious to try out SimplyCook, who offer a unique recipe subscription box, complete with perfectly portioned out flavour kits and special ingredients, delivered straight to your door.
All you need to do is purchase the fresh food (and other ingredients such as rice, pasta etc but you may already have these in your cupboard), add the flavour pots, and voila – you can try out some brand new, restaurant quality meals which are easy to cook and take 30 minutes or less to make!
SimplyCook offers a range of different boxes including gluten-free, diet-friendly and vegetarian options. The first box that you’ll receive is a special trial box which has been put together by their team of expert chefs, and after that, you can then choose the recipes that you want to try out or let SimplyCook pick them for you.
I was kindly sent a Vegetarian Trial Box to test out which arrived in a slim cardboard box that slipped nicely through the letterbox. Inside I found a welcome leaflet, four recipe cards, and four matching flavour kits. It was great to see some more unusual vegetarian options such as the Bokkeumbap included, and I was very excited to try all four out.
Each meal serves two people and the portion sizes are very generous!
Meal One: Wild Mushroom Penne
Pasta and mushrooms are two of my favourite foods so naturally, I had to try this one first! Inside the flavour kit, I found three sealed pots of Garlic Paste, Porcini Stock and Porcini & Chive, to which I added 200g Penne Pasta, 1 finely chopped Onion, 300g Chestnut Mushrooms and 120ml of Crème Fraîche. I already had the pasta, mushrooms and an onion in the house, so all I needed to go out and buy was a small pot of Crème Fraîche.
This meal was super easy to make and the recipe card’s instructions were clear and easy to follow. I boiled the pasta first and whilst that was cooking, I made the mushroom sauce by I frying the mushrooms and chopped onion in the Garlic Paste in one pan, and heating up the Crème Fraîche, Porcini Stock and Porcini & Chive mix in another saucepan. When the pasta was done, I just added everything together to mix it all up – all done in about 15 minutes and it was delicious! The sauce was rich, creamy and packed full of flavour – so tasty!
Meal Two: Bokkeumbap
I hadn’t heard of Bokkeumbap before but it’s a popular Korean style dish which translates as ‘fried rice’ and is served with a fried egg on the top. I enjoy eating a lot of Asian food, so I couldn’t wait to try this. The flavour kit contained three pots; Garlic Paste, Gochujang (a red chilli pepper paste) and Doenjang (a Korean soybean paste). SimplyCook stated that Bokkeumbap is a great way to use up leftovers, so I added 300g cooked Wholegrain Rice, half a White Cabbage (finely sliced), 3 Spring Onions, 2 Eggs and a chopped Red Pepper.
To make the Bokkeumbap, I cooked the Wholegrain Rice and fried the Cabbage and Red Pepper with the Garlic Paste in another pan. When they were both cooked, I added the Cabbage and Red Pepper to the pan with the Wholegrain Rice and stirred in the Gochujang and Doenjang, then I added the Spring Onions. In another pan, I fried the two eggs and then arranged everything onto the plates with the eggs on the top. This meal took a little longer to make due to cooking the rice (around 20 minutes in total), but if you were really short on time, you could use a packet of microwaveable rice instead to speed things up.
The end result was an interesting savoury dish which had a peppery, spicy kick to it. I’d definitely make this again!
Meal Three: Iranian Vegetable Stew
I’ve never tried any Iranian style food before, but I do love a good vegetable stew! This recipe’s flavour kit had three pots which featured Ras el Hanout (a blend of Ginger, Cardamon, Cumin and more mixed Spices), Tomato Paste and Mushroom Stock. When I opened the Ras el Hanout, it smelt amazing! The recipe card called for an Onion, 150g Potatoes, 3 Tomatoes, 150g Spinach and a small Butternut Squash. I couldn’t find a Butternut Squash at my local supermarket, so I used some extra potatoes instead and added some leftover Red Cabbage that I had in the fridge.
For this meal, I boiled the Potatoes for around 15 minutes and fried the Onion in a separate pan. Once they were done, I added them to a large pan and sprinkled over the Ras el Hanout, stirring it all together to make sure it was all evenly coated with the spices. I added a splash of water and then stirred in the Tomato Paste, cooking it over a low heat for a further 5 minutes.
In a separate pan, I added 500ml boiled water to the Mushroom Stock and then added the Tomatoes, simmering for 5 minutes. After that, I put everything in a large casserole dish, along with the Spinach and Red Cabbage, and popped it into the oven for around 10-15 minutes.
Although this meal took around 30 minutes all together to make, it was definitely worth the wait as this stew was amazing! I had this with a Quorn fillet, and my housemates enjoyed it with some roast Chicken. It’s safe to say that everyone loved it and serving it as a side dish fed four of us.
Meal Four: Red Lentil & Squash Curry
Red Lentil Curry is a classic vegetarian dish and I could honestly eat curry every single day, so I was looking forward to making this. Inside the flavour kit I found three pots including a Lentil Spice Mix, a Spicy Garlic & Coconut paste and Ginger Lentil Stock. To this, I added 120g Red Split Lentils, 1 large Onion, a Red Chilli and 400g Coconut Milk. I swapped the Spring Greens for Spinach as I had some left in my fridge from the Iranian Stew recipe above, and I used Potatoes instead of the Butternut Squash as I still couldn’t find any in the supermarket!
Like the other dishes, making this curry was very easy. I cubed and boiled the Potatoes in one pan, and fried the Onion in another. Once the Onion was done, I added the Spicy Garlic & Coconut paste, Red Lentils, Lentil Spice Mix, Coconut Milk and the Ginger Lentil Stock, with 100ml of water, mixed everything together and brought it to the boil. I popped on a lid and let it simmer for 10 minutes When that was done, I added the Potatoes, Spinach and Red Chilli and let it simmer for another 5 minutes and it was then ready.
I served the curry in bowls with some basmati rice and a naan on the side. Sharing with a friend, we heartily tucked in! This was such a tasty and satisfying meal and like the other recipes, I would happily make this again!