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I first discovered Vesta Paella in my teens...and have been a fan ever since. It is a dehydrated paella but doesn't lack in any taste. It is a bit costly in supermarkets and you can look to pay about £1-50. Sadly, it seems to be disappearing from many supermarket shelves....it was for this reason that I went without one for a long time! I went to a different supermarket, and there it was on the shelf. I was probably a bit more pleased than I should have been! I have seen it in discount stores but only sporadically and i've never seen it on offer in 2 for 1 deals etc. It contains two packets of dried rice and sauce mix (peas, carrots, peppers and prawns) and is very easy to make. For optimum taste, don't let it boil dry...leave a little bit of juice. It doesn't take long and I always enjoy it. I can't figure out how the flavours are kept so nice...flavourings I guess. The fillings are plentiful and the portion size fills me up. When I rediscovered this product, I thought i'd got greedier as years ago I always had leftovers....however, it is in fact the portion that is smaller. This is a great ready meal...good to have a couple in the cupboard. Just hoping that they don't disappear off every shelf!
Vesta produce a range of boxed, dehydrated foods which are handy to keep in the cupboard, because they keep for ages, & are quick & easy to cook. My personal favourite is the 'Paella' version. My mum frequently bought this when I was a child. The portion size was bigger back then (as with most things!) & one paella was enough to feed both me & my dad quickly & conveniently. I've since bought it for myself off & on, but it is becoming increasingly harder to locate. I recently found this product on sale at B&M bargains, & have since seen it in other discount stores. The recipe has changed slightly since I was a child. The paella used to contain chicken pieces, but these have since been omitted. Also, the overall size has reduced from 'Serves 2' to 'Generous Portion'. The paella now contains rice, carrots, green pepper, peas, red pepper & prawns. The paella comes in a box, inside which are 2 sachets - one of rice, & one of the paella mix. To cook: the rice is fried in a little butter, before adding 625mls of water & the contents of the paella sachet. Bring to the boil, then simmer for approx 25 mins, until the rice has absorbed the liquid. There are also microwave instructions, which follow a similar line, but I have only ever cooked the paella in a frying pan. OK, so dehydrated food which is brought to life as quickly & simply as that surely can't be any good....can it...?! Actually yes! It's a really tasty dish - a little on the salty side perhaps, but there are some good flavours here & the prawns are surprisingly plentiful & succulent. For added flavour (& to bulk the meal out so I get 2 servings from one packet) I add a tin of sweetcorn. If I have a rotisserie chicken lying around in the fridge, then I also add a bit of that too. I also like to eat this with bread, which makes it a really filling meal. The box contains 146g (dried weight), & can be found for around £1-£1.25 at discount stores. In supermarkets (if you can find it) it will set you back around £1.80. 100g as served will provide 130 cals, 4.1g protein, 24.9g carbs, 1.6g fat & 1.7g fibre. Being only 1.6% fat means it's a healthy option too! :)
I haven't been at all well this week. At the beginning of the week I believed I had the hangover from hell when I'd been out from 5.30pm till 6am on the Sunday and still felt god damn awful on the Tuesday and could barely move. I put it down to mixing drinks and banana shots of some kind and I wouldn't mind but I don't even like banana! By the Wednesday however I come to the conclusion that although I'd fallen over and bruised most of my body that my bones really shouldn't be hurting as much as they were and my tonsils shouldn't be bright toxic green. Well to cut a long story short I got the Dr's and the green on my tonsils was puss and I have some kind of nasty infection and flu! Why is this story important to a food review? Well because I couldn't swallow for days. My glands were up, blood was coming out of my mouth and I was in a right royal state. I couldn't eat my beloved toast and everything either burned me or choked me yet I could still taste and I still felt hungry and have never been able to sleep starving! It goes without saying I was in such a mess I couldn't get to the shops and just going to the Dr's burning up was a struggle but I was in a situation that once out of the house I had to get some essentials! Lemsips and cough medicine along with my prescription and flipping food I could manage before I gave up the will to live entirely! I've always loved pasta and rice and stuff like that and I saw this and remembered my Dad loved them when he was alive and the picture on the box looked appealing so I thought it was worth a go as I got mine on offer for 99p! The Box.... Black square cardboard, recyclable box. On the front I'm told it is Vesta, paella and that it is a 'Delicious Spanish style dish with ocean prawns, mixed vegetables and golden grains of rice'. Then there is a photograph of the dish and I'm told it is a generous portion for one and that it is dried ingredients along with being told to add water & simmer and that it's easy to cook. On the back I'm once again told what it is, told about Flamenco dancing (thought why I'm not entirely sure lol), ingredients are listed, cooking instructions are given, nutritional information is stated, contact details for Campbell Grocery Products (the manufacturers of Vesta) are given, storage instructions are also there along with a bar-code and the size of my product is given (146g). All over the product there is like a stamp that says Seville Spain on it but interestingly enough it is produced in the Uk lol Cooking Instructions.... On The Hob.... Melt 12g (1/2oz) of margarine or butter in a large frying pan and then add the contents of the rice sachet and fry gently without browning for a couple of minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and add 625mls (22 fl oz) of cold water and stir in the contents of the paella sachet and bring it up the boil and simmer for about 20 minutes and serve when liquid has evaporated. Microwave (My Method).... Empty the contents of both the sachets into a dish and add 12g (1/2 oz) of margarine or butter and stir in 575mls (1 pint) of boiling water and microwave for about 19 minutes (until the liquid has evaporated) and serve. My Experience.... Well I opted for the microwave method because not feeling well I could throw it all in a dish easy enough and get up and stir it the once. The sachets are labelled very well so there's no messing about on that score. I found it really easy to do. The off putting things about it was rice looked fine and as you would expect dried rice to appear slightly beige in colour and nothing special to it at all. The other sachet contained the prawns and vegetables and didn't smell so good at all. I gave it all a good stir (making it smell worse) added the boiling water and the butter and stuck it in the microwave as directed. The smell as it was cooking wasn't particularly pleasant either. Smelt like boiling fish but to be fair that was what was kind of going on! I must also say that the smell once I was eating it was gone and the smell never lingered in my house for hours either! Once cooked I was impressed. It was thoroughly cooked and looked really good! My dish was neither smelly, greasy soggy or sloppy. The water had been so well absorbed into the rice that no mess was left on my plate at all from the juices. My portion was also very large and much bigger than anticipated. My rice was a golden yellow, moist and tasty but not at all wet. There were loads of small prawns in there too that tasted like prawns and not like pieces of leather which again I half expected them too as they did come to me dried of course. There was plenty of tiny chunks of carrot, peppers, peas and tomatoes (like sun-dried) that had all plumped out a bit and were juicy and tasted like you would expect them to. The whole thing really was exceptionally tasty to me and visually looked really nice. Verdict.... I loved it from the simplicity of preparing it, to eating it. I loved the look of it and as the saying goes feed the eyes first! The size and value for money I received was brilliant and this fills a very hungry belly easily. The only small criticism I can give it is the smell during cooking it but as I said earlier in my review the smell soon vanishes (it was gone within half an hour). The one sticking point for others may be the seasoning of this. It is highly salty to me. Now I find that acceptable as I like salt but I wouldn't dream of adding to this as it really doesn't need it but I am aware that 3.75g total salt in this is rather high thought it does make the flavours ping out and I have no problem with that! So if your not keen on eating alot of salt or your not keen on it at all I'd purchase this with some caution! Also this is not a low calorie meal at 625Kcals a portion! I shall definitely be buying this again and trying other flavours in this range that I can in the future! Ingredients.... Cooked rice, (65%) (water, rice), vegetables (18%) (carrot, green pepper, peas, red pepper), tomato, prawns (4%), glucose syrup, water, salt, suagr, hydrogenated vegetable oil, yeast extract, flavour enhancers (monosodioum glutamate, sodium 5' ribonucleotide), garlic, tumeric, colour (beta carotene), natural flavourings (contains celery), milk powder and wheat flour. Nutritional Information (Per Meal).... Energy 652Kcal Protein 20.5g Carbohydrate 124.5g of which is sugars 6.0g Fat 8.0g of which is saturates 4.0g Fibre 8.5g Sodium 1.50g salt equivalent based 3.75g Can be found in all good supermarkets around the £2.50 price mark.
I am not in the habit of surviving on Ready Meals or the such but I like to have a couple in the cupboard for emergencies. One of my favourites is the Paella made by Vesta. Its something that my Mum used to buy when I was a child, so I have grown up on it, and quite unusually for something that has been around for a while, the taste has never changed. Not feeling 100% I decided to go for an easy dinner today and pulled the packets out of the cupboard. ~~~Price~~~ Expect to pay between £1.50 - £1.75 a box. Each box is 146g and Serves One. The price is pretty much on par for a meal for one so whilst it may seem a little expensive is not in reality. ~~~What do you get~~~ In the cardboard box, which has a handy little pull down part to ease opening, you will find two sachets. One is the rice the other the sauce mix. ~~~Ingredients~~~ One thing worth remembering is that this is not a fresh authentic dish and is designed to last for a while (At least two years according to my box). Ingredients include rice, dried vegetables like as in soup, dried prawns, a few flavour enhancers and a colouring. It also contains milk powder and wheat flour, so not advisable for anyone with such allergies. There is no mention of nuts, nor any possible contact. ~~~Cooking~~~ There are two ways you can cook this meal. Either in the microwave or on the hob. Microwaving. This is the easiest method as you simply put both sachets into a bowl, add butter, add a pint of boiling water, then cover and microwave for 19 minutes (650W) Hob. Normally I would go for the microwave method but as I was using 3 packets it was not really an option due to the amount I was making. To cook on the hob first you need to melt some butter then add the rice. You fry this for a couple of minutes until it has a transparent appearance. Remove it from the hob and then add 22ml of cold water and the sauce sachet. Bring this to the boil before simmering for 20 minutes. Strangely it takes just as long to cook on the hob as in the microwave, but is just slightly more involved as you need to stir it often, and add the sachets separately. ~~~Taste Test~~~ Served up in bowls we all dig in. Ignoring the calories (652 per box) and lack of healthy status, I concentrate on the texture and taste. The rice is cooked to perfection and has a slightly sticky but very buttery coating to it. There are a few prawns dotted about but the flavour coming through is very much a seafood one. There is a reasonable amount of red peppers, carrots and peas amongst the rice which I think are there more for colour than flavour. Personally I find one box to myself way too much, and am quite happy with half, but for those with a larger appetite it is a good sized portion. I often serve it with a piece of hot buttered baguette since we have already ignored the possible cholesterol levels in this meal and as it is only a once in a while meal I dont think it will hurt too much. Overall, I would say whilst it may be continents away from the authentic Spanish version which overflows with various varieties of seafood it is still a very tasty alternative and ideal for those (like myself) who really cant stand the thought of prising those poor fish out from their shells.