Ana Sortun’s Chef Set Meals

Recently I was contacted by a PR rep for Chef Set to see if I’d like to try Chef Ana Sortun’s new line of “chef-inspired homemade meals.” Many Bostoners know Ana Sortun’s famous Mediterranean restaurant in Cambridge called Oleana, or her bakery/café Sofra (both of which I’ve been to and love). She has partnered with Set Point Health, a Newton-based company that helps clients with their health and weight, to create these semi-prepared meals to encourage clients to cook with real ingredients at home, without compromising taste or health. I was already familiar with Set Point Health, and heard years ago that these meals were coming down the pipeline, so I couldn’t wait to try them.

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I was sent a package with each of the four different meal offerings:

  • Couscous with Moroccan spices and Almonds (for chicken)
  • Quinoa with Greek Herbs and Raisins (for shrimp)
  • Bulgur Pilaf with Turkish Spices and Pistachio (for beef)
  • Quinoa with Crushed Pistachio and Za’atar Spice (for salmon)

The rep assured me each of the meals could easily be made vegetarian. When I cook the sets that call for chicken and beef, I’ll likely use tofu and tempeh instead.

After spending five days out of town for the Academy’s Food and Nutrition Conference and no time for either Funk or I to grocery shop, we had a pretty bare fridge. As in no fresh produce (gasp!). I figured it’d be the perfect opportunity to make one of these Chef Set meals since my brain was so fried, I had absolutely no interest in coming up with a meal on my own. I picked up the necessary additional ingredients (frozen peas, an onion and salmon) to make the Quinoa with Crushed Pistacho and Za’atar Spice and couldn’t wait to get cooking.

The process couldn’t be easier and the three main steps included:

  1. Cook the salmon
  2. Dice and cook the onion with peas
  3. Cook the pre-portioned quinoa

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Besides that, I just had to open up two included spice packets and mix one with the veggies, and the other with some olive oil to top the salmon.

Usually when I’m looking for new recipes, I immediately look at the ingredient list length. If it’s too long, I typically nix it. My favorite part about these kits is that all of the spices and seasonings were already measured and mixed together, and included ingredients I wouldn’t typically have at home. It took away the most time consuming step! All of the main cooking steps could be done simultaneously: I cooked the salmon in the oven while the quinoa water boiled and I sautéed the onion with peas. Easy peasy! I don’t typically make meals that require three totally different cooking methods (bake, boil, sautee) but it really was simple. Funk commented that it looked like a fancy meal, and it was! I did add a few dashes of sea salt to enhance the flavor, but otherwise, it was perfect and extremely filling. In fact, each kit is supposed to serve two, and despite our typically large appetites, Funk and I left a whole serving of quinoa with peas and onion for leftovers. If we had an extra piece of salmon, this would have been plenty for three full servings. I may have bulked up the meal by using an extra large onion and more peas than the recipe called for, but you can never have too many veggies!

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These kits retail at $6.50 each, and average at about 500 calories per serving with a great balance of whole grains, lean protein and vegetables, which is a decent deal considering they really are restaurant quality meals. The spice blends make all the difference! Currently these kits are available in all locations of Whole Foods in Cambridge, Sofra Bakery & Café, Siena Farms South End, and online.

Disclaimer: I received these Chef Set meals for free to try, but was not asked to blog about them, and was not compensated for this post.

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