“ Brand: Get Real / Type: Pie / Food quality: Organic food „
Back in the 90s, when I first went veggie, meat replacement foods were pretty lacking. Sausages were low on taste and texture, but high on salt and fat. Packet-mix nut roasts made a very inadequate substitute for roasted meat for the traditional British rite that is Sunday dinner. Worst of all, dehydrated TVP tasted like shredded, reconstituted cardboard when substituted for mince.
Not any more. Get Real! are leading the way in producing a range of positively drool-worthy convenience foods for veggies, and what's more, they come straight out of the freezer cabinet and are positively foolproof to cook.
Leading their range is the award-winning Ambledown Pie. About the size and shape of a large pork pie, each of these consists of a shell of handfinished crisp shortcrust pastry surrounds a rustic mixture of roast vegetables, apples and cheese, topped with cider soaked groats for extra flavour. These couldn't be easier to cook - you simple get them out of the freezer and place them on a baking sheet in the oven for 45 minutes. Then tuck in!
The taste is like something you'd buy from a farm shop, rather than the supermarket - despite having been frozen, the pastry tastes handmade. Perhaps the fact that it's made from stone ground flour produced in a mill local to the farm using traditional methods is the reason that it's so crisp and full of home-baked flavour. The filling is quite colourful (lots of orange from carrots), and finely minced - no big chunks of veg here. It's satisfyingly hearty and comforting, to the point that this is a meal that even non-veggies will adore. As proof of this, I served it to my boyfriend's parents, who are strictly meat-and-two veg types and highly suspicious of any meal that doesn't contain cow. They absolutely loved these, to the point that they said they'd be happy to eat them on Christmas day.
Ethically, this company are pretty unimpeccable. Their packaging is biodegradeable, recyclable cardboard, with no plastic used anywhere. Plus, the food is organic (and approved by the Soil Association), so attention is being paid to the damage that unsustainable farming does to the environment. The business is a small, family affair, run from a working farm in Shropshire, so you're not buying from a large corporation.
The only warning flag about these pies is that they are high in fat (15.8g per 100g) and calories (1182 KCal per 100g), meaning that you will be absolutely stuffed by the time you finish one! For everyday eating, Get Real do a range of pastry-less roasts that are a little less likely to expand your waistline. However, on the upside, each pie counts for 2 of your portions of fruit and veg a day, and contains no artificial colours, preservatives or additives. It's refreshing to see something in the chiller cabinet with a plain list of wholesome ingredients, rather than a load of E-numbers:
Ingredients: Stoneground Flour, Carrots (18%), Onions (7%), Palm Shortening, Water*, Groats (5%), Apples (4.3%), Cheese (3%), Oatmeal, Mushrooms, Oatflakes, Seasalt, Eggs, Hazelnuts, Cider Vinegar, Sugar, Herbs, Cider.
You can buy these from health food shops, or from Waitrose. They cost around £3 for two, but that's an absolute bargain when you consider the quality of the product.
Finest of organic ingredients. A rustic combination of roast vegetables, apples, cheese and hazelnuts, encased in delicious hand-finished pastry topped with cider soaked groats. 2 x 235g ready to bake!