I’ve been a massive fan of meal boxes for a couple of years now, but even though the concept has been around for a while, companies like Hello Fresh manage to keep their offerings new and exciting. When HF contacted me about their upcoming Christmas range, I asked to test drive one of their boxes to review on the blog – and here’s what I thought!
The first meal was garlicky prawns with proper mini roast potatoes and walnut parsley pesto. Having spent years pretending I liked pesto only to be continually baffled when I just wasn’t that into it, I was a bit worried about how well it would go with prawns and roast potatoes. However, the combination of walnuts and parsley made this a far more subtle blend of flavours than the ‘punch you in the face until you give up’ blend of basil and pinenuts – and it went so well with both the prawns and the potatoes that I’m going to make this again! The pan roasted potatoes turned out beautifully (although I have to say I’ve always been really good at roast potatoes, because…they’re not hard to do!), and the tomatoes and prawns were succulent and moreish.
The second meal, spiced beef ragout with couscous and flaked almonds was spicy and gorgeous – as usual, it’s the small touches that elevate the final dish and turn it into something special. Adding in the toasted almond flakes gave it an extra dimension as far as texture is concerned, and the big juicy chunks of courgette were a lovely addition. The actual ragout was made with peppers and ras-el-hanout, along with beef and tomatoes, and it reminded me of the couscous restaurants we ate at in Marseilles. As with most box meals, these were combinations I hadn’t thought of to try before, which I love, because new flavours are one of my favourite things!
The final meal was my absolute favourite – as they say, save the best until last! This was pistachio and prune stuffed pork loin with mashed parsnips and mange tout, with a homemade chicken pan gravy drizzled over the top. The stuffing was a perfect blend of sweet and savoury, with a texture from the nuts and the added meaty background of sausagemeat, which was also added. I also really enjoyed making the gravy too – I’ve never made such a simple and easy gravy, so now I know what to do next time I’m hankering after a quick sauce!
All in all, I’ve been a repeat customer of meal boxes for a couple of years now for several main reasons: it saves waste, it gives you new ideas for techniques and flavour combinations, it saves time both in shopping and cooking time, and it tastes completely amazing. You don’t end up with half a packet of this or a third of a tin of that knocking around, and you don’t end up just bunging everything in and making giant portions. The one thing I would say is that the calorie counts don’t always seem to be right, and you do seem to end up using a lot of oil (but, of course, you can decide to use less!), but other than that, box meals like Hello Fresh are a smart way to save yourself hassle and guarantee a selection of fresh and tasty meals!
Hello Fresh’s current crop of recipes are designed to help you take on Christmas by introducing techniques essential to getting your lunch just right, which I thought was a great touch! As an experienced cook, I already knew the best way to make perfect roast spuds, but the recipe for the prune and pistachio stuffing was sooo good I’m going to have to bust it out on Christmas too! Find out more here!
Hello Fresh provided a box for this review – opinions and photos are my own.