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Regular readers of our Friday column on convenience foods know that we used to love evol foods products.They were great when the company first launched, but since being acquired by a larger company the meals have been hit or miss. One big issue is that they have been much higher in sodium with often over 800 milligrams in a dish.
The Teriyaki Chicken that is on offer as one of their new Lean & Fit line was a little less - only 600 milligrams of sodium - but at 290 calories and 4 grams of fiber it seemed worth another try to see if their products are getting any better. First impressions are good, with a nice Asian aroma as the dish came out of the microwave. Visually, the meal is appealing, with fresh looking snap peas, red bell peppers, and carrots alongside decently sized bits of chicken.
Flavor-wise, this dish stacks up. It is a sweeter Teriyaki than I like, but it is not overly salty. The chicken tastes like real chicken, with real chicken texture, and the veggies are nice and crisp. Overall the textures of the veggies and chicken are about as close to what you might get if you cooked this at home, but the real winner here is the brown rice.
We complain all the time (all the time) here at Dr. Gourmet World Headquarters that many frozen meals would be much better if they used brown rice. Not just because it is better for you, with more fiber, but the texture of brown rice adds so much to a meal, and it also holds up to freezing better than white rice (and a lot better than some of the white rice we have tasted in the past). In this evol dish is a good quality, short-grain brown rice that is both nutty, and because it is cooked well before freezing, has a texture that is as good as you can get.
A good dish that makes it look like evol foods is getting back to their origins.
The Chicken Shawarma has the same sort of feel - of evol getting back to its origins, that is. With 300 calories and only 440 milligrams of sodium, this is the sort of meal that (almost) made us fall in love with evol.
"Shawarma" is usually defined as a Middle Eastern method of cooking meats, where slices of multiple types of meats are stacked on a vertical rotisserie and thin slices are cut off to serve. Other sources say that "shawarma" is a dish of "garlicky meat or poultry served on pitas."
This dish from evol is neither, but it is couscous served with diced red onion and red and green bell peppers in a dill, lemon, and yogurt sauce. The couscous are soft with a bit of bite and the yogurt sauce is sweet, tart, and umami all together. The onions give the dish some crunch and the red and green bell peppers are both sweet and tart.
Where this dish falls down is the chicken. We looked carefully throughout the meal after cooking and could find only a little more than a half-dozen shards of chicken - bits not more than 1/2 inch across and perhaps the thickness of a piece of cardboard. "It's too bad," said a panelist, "because the flavor's really good." According to our team, the chicken "tastes fresh grilled" and was the only real flaw in the meal: "There just isn't enough chicken." That said, the panel agreed that they would "definitely eat this again."
The first set of thumbs up for evol Foods in a while.
Reviewed: July 6, 2018