If you are like me, you love to eat, but would rather leave the cooking to others. Since I can’t dine out every day, my freezer is stuffed with Trader Joe’s favorites and my pantry holds staples like canned goods, pasta and rice, so I don’t go hungry, but sometimes I feel like I could be eating healthier. I confess though that I am lazy in the kitchen and not the most imaginative cook, so I also need meal prep to be easy. Fortunately, if you can bring yourself to dice a few fresh vegetables and cook a pot of rice, you can eat like a true Foodie at home with Casa Verde’s new line of heat-and-eat, plant-based meal kits that are perfectly portioned for a party of one.
Casa Verde’s new meal kits come in four hearty varieties: Lentil Mole, Garbanzos Al Pastor, Coconut Chowder, and Red Bean Pozole. With a mission to bring delicious, nutritious and affordable meals directly to consumers, all of the ingredients used in Casa Verde meals are 100% plant-based, sustainably sourced and non GMO.
As a way of facilitating a fun, hands-on introduction to the line, Casa Verde invited me to a virtual cooking class (conducted via Zoom) with Iron Chef Jose Garces, who created the recipes for the first four meals in the line. I had already received a sample package of the four meal varieties, and they also gifted me with a bag of groceries and fresh produce to be used during the class. Very nice!
With about an hour of dedicated chopping (all leftovers were either frozen or used for other meals within a few days — time saving!) I was ready to get cooking when Zoom time rolled around.
Chef Garces (top left) was joined in the presentation by Casa Verde Cofounder Harry Lewis (who joined from his home in South America) and Chef and TV Host Elena Besser. The three chefs kept the conversation lively, fun and informative during the one-hour class.
Here are a few of the featured serving suggestions that you can make with these versatile meal kits and just a few fresh ingredients that you probably already have on hand !
Chef Garces started with the Red Bean Pozole, whose ingredients include sweet Mexican corn, hearty red beans, and protein-rich grilled tofu, all simmered together in a traditional mild guajillo chile sauce.
Here’s what it looks like in the pan, so you can see that the package’s photo is a very accurate representation.
Once heated through, it was ready to become the base for a zesty bowl atop white rice and garnished with chopped fresh tomato, onion, avocado, and cilantro, with a few plantain chips for added texture and a salty crunch. The beauty of these meals is that you can dress-up your dishes as much, or as little as you want — or not at all.
You could also make a Red Bean Pozole Taco Salad by topping the bowl with a mound of shredded romaine lettuce, a handful or two of coarsely crushed tortilla chips, diced white onion, and serve it with a side of warm refried beans. Fiesta!
I quickly realized that there was no way I could eat four meals, so I enjoyed eating my Red Bean Pozole bowl while I watched the remainder of the demonstration, with the plan to enjoy the other three meals during the coming week (another reason why doing a lot of extra chopping up-front made sense)!
The Coconut Chowder was up next. This rich Moqueca (Brazillian Fish stew)-inspired dish is loaded with a satisfying mix of garbanzos, sweet potatoes, mild yellow peppers, and spiced red beans.
The chowder was prepared simply in a bowl with toppings of fresh chopped avocado, tomato, and cilantro with a plantain chip garnish. You can see that if you have a simple list groceries in your fridge and pantry, you can use them to create so many different dishes. Other serving suggestions from the Case Verde website are below:
Serving Suggestion #1:
Pay homage to this Chowder’s Brazilian roots by serving with a dish of pan-fried ripe plantain slices! The subtle caramel-sweetness of the ripe plantains compliments the rich creaminess of the coconut cream broth. Garnish with cilantro leaves and toasted pepitas!
Serving Suggestion #2:
Comfort food, Latinx style! For a warming, wholesome meal in minutes, simply heat the Coconut Chowder and scoop up the delicious broth with a stack of warm flour tortillas. For an added kick, top with some thinly sliced jalapenos and a handful of diced avocado.
Up next, Lentil Mole: Mole is a truly versatile sauce, bringing richness to meats and fish, and coaxing surprisingly complex flavors from vegetables and grains. Casa Verde’s convenient heat-and-eat Lentil Mole lets you enjoy big flavor without the big cleanup (so important). Chef Garces served the Lentil Mole over white rice, with chopped avocado, tomato and cilantro garnish, and stove-warmed corn tortillas. For added protein, you could also put a fried egg on top. Yummy!
A reminder that these meals can all be heated in the microwave (it just takes 60 seconds), or by dropping the sealed pouch into boiling water for five minutes (which saves clean-up on the pan).
Are you ready for some Garbanzos Al Pastor Street Tacos? Let’s do it.
Garbanzos Al Pastor easy street tacos are both nutritious and delicious, not to mention (but you can see I am about to) they’re a cinch to make. Just heat your garbanzos (60 seconds in the microwave or 5 minutes in boiling water will do), and serve with yellow corn tortillas warmed in a cast-iron pan. Garnish generously with diced onion, chopped cilantro, fresh pineapple, and serve with a side of rice or quinoa. So easy!
Because their protein-rich ingredients are so versatile, Casa Verde meal kits are ideal staples to keep on hand. They are also shelf-stable, so they need no refrigeration. Find out more about Casa Verde (a division of Ilinel Food Co.) shop online for these meal kits, and get recipe ideas at This Link. Subscribe to their newsletter and you’ll receive 10% off your first Casa Verde order!