When you step back and think about it, the (very recent) increase in convenient, supermarket vegan options is actually pretty staggering. When I went vegan, not that long ago, frozen pizzas were cheeseless, and came with toppings like falafel, onion and artichoke. Chilled? Forget about it.
But times have changed. Again and again. And interestingly, Asda seems to be going through a kind of low-key vegan awakening, in terms of expanding its range. There’s a new line of meat-free frozen nuggets. Frozen popcorn “chicken.” Meat-free burger patties. And this exciting new chilled vegan flatbread pizza.
First of all. The shape. It’s ridiculous. Did anyone at Asda even try slicing one of these things with a pizza cutter before they okayed its production? Reinventing pizza is fine. Go right ahead. But why fuck with the shape? Come on. Charge 20p more and make the damn thing round, right?
Redeemingly, the pizza tastes great. It’s a good-quality, cheap, ready made snack. The tomato sauce is rich. The vegan mozzarella’s perfectly cheesy. The stonebaked base is thin and crispy. And the mixed grilled peppers and garlic mushrooms are subtle and complimentary. I’ll definitely buy it again. And no doubt complain about the shape. Again.
If you’re in the mood for something quick and easy, and don’t mind soya, wheat and scary sounding additives like maltodextrin, Squeaky Bean Veg’s nut-free vegan satay kievs are a tasty – and very convincing – chicken alternative.
The texture’s perfect. Just like the schnitzels I remember growing up. Especially if you cook them a bit longer than recommended, hit grill towards the end and crisp them up in a splash of olive oil – or melt a cheeky slice of Violife cheddar on top. And when you hit the middle it’s like a savoury, vegan-chicken doughnut, filled with sweet, nut-free satay sauce.
I’ve eaten them on pasta. With vegan mac ‘n cheese. In burgers, with cheese and other fancy toppings. With bubble and squeak and a side of “meaty” Marmite gravy… Their role in lunch or dinner’s totally up to you. But one thing they consistently don’t do, is disappoint.
These take me back. To a simpler, or perhaps more complicated time. When I’d drop a couple of chilled viennas in a pot of boiling water, slice up some hotdog rolls, squirt them with mustard and ketchup and eat them watching Seinfeld in my boxers. Now, thanks to the Fry Family Food Company’s new Vegan Artisan Smoked Hot Dogs, I can relive those dreary salad days with a bit more sophistication. And trousers.
The hotdogs are “naturally smoked” in a classic wood smoker and they taste legit. They’re smoky and light with a perfect hot dog texture. Like the “high-end” version of the real thing, only without those repressed pangs of denial-of-origin. Instead, these sausages are mostly soy and wheat vegetable protein and your regular concoction of flavourings and thickeners. So more processed treat than everyday eat.
To make sure my dogs lived up to their “Artisan” billing I added last night’s homemade chimichurri and a mix of leftover baked panko crumbs and Corn Flakes for added crunch. And needless to say, Seinfeld has never been enjoyed over hot dogs as sophisticated as these.
So far I’ve only found the Fry’s range in larger Sainsbury’s stores. But if you’re in the mood for an easy, tasty vegan hot dog, or on your way to a summer BBQ, you can’t go wrong with a pack of Frys Vegan Artisan Smoked Hot Dogs.
Fuck falafel. Fuck artichoke. Fuck onion. Sometimes you just want a frozen pizza with some cheese on it. Something easy, that you can stick in the oven at the end of a long day. That doesn’t taste like feet. And so far, Kirsty’s Classic Margherita is the best frozen vegan-friendly supermarket pizza I’ve stumbled across.
Kirsty’s was started by “Lancashire mum” – and 2010 Dragon’s Den contestant – Kirsty Henshaw. Inspired by her son’s allergies and intolerances, Kirsty decided to start her own “healthy” free-from chilled and frozen food empire. But so far, I’ve only found her pizza in a few big Tescos. In the frozen vegetarian / vegan sections.
To be honest, it’s a good frozen pizza. Period. Tasty. Simple. To the point. And for a vegan pizza, it really doesn’t feel like anything’s missing on the classic, gooey margherita front. The base is thin and crispy. The tomato sauce is rich and tasty. And the cheese alternative is sticky and way more cowabunga than your average supermarket “free from” bullshit.
Looking at the list of ingredients, you’re not quite sure what to make of it. But then again. It’s a frozen pizza. It’s not organic kombucha. And ultimately, if you’re looking for Netflix and chilled, Kirsty’s delivers. Well, Tesco does. But seriously, go pick one up yourself.