Throughout July, I've been reviewing a Coori box. It's basically a big box of edible goodies - my kind of box! The twist is that it's all catered for people with allergies and intolerances, so you can customise your box to be free from gluten, wheat, dairy, lactose, egg or MSG, with vegetarian and vegan options available too.
Firstly, it's pretty exceptional value. My box was worth £75, and inside was:
- Fresh gnocchi
- Fresh gluten free spinach & ricotta ravioli
- Fresh gluten free Parma ham & Parmesan tortellini
- 3 x gluten free pies
- Red pepper pesto
- 2 x gluten free pizza bases
- Risotto ai funghi porcini
- Zuppa mediterranea
- Magic Pillow cereal (like Crave)
- 3 x bags of maize & rice crisps
- Rice bread breadcrumbs
- Gluten free cantucci (like biscotti)
- Gluten free biscotti
- 4 x bags of potato crisps
- Gluten free cookies
- Gluten free lasagne sheets
- Gluten free ready to fill profiteroles
- Gluten free hamburger rolls
- Gluten free foccacia
- Gluten free bread mix
- Gluten free puff pastry mix
- Gluten free pizza mix
- Gluten free Couscous
- Gluten free petit pains
- Rice cream
- Soy cream
- Gluten free, dairy free tartare sauce
- Gluten free, dairy free, soya free Mayo alternative
- Hot salsa
- Chocolate rice pudding
- Rice snacks with chocolate or almond filling
That's a lot, isn't it? Considering that most free from foods tend to be more expensive than the non-free from stuff, I was pretty impressed. Less so when I had to carry the box to my car from work, but that's my total lack of upper body strength for you.
Most of the things inside the box don't need refrigerating and have decent sell-by dates, but a few of the items were fresh and I prioritised using them up first of all - the gnocchi, the ravioli, the tortellini and the pies. I still haven't used everything in the box, but I'm working my way through it. Because I'm not gluten free, it's been interesting to try the foods out and see if I notice a difference in the taste or consistency.
Here are some of the items I've cooked so far:
Gnocchi & red pepper pesto
Really tasty. Gnocchi tends to be gluten free (it's made of potatoes) so I don't imagine any major changes were made to either of these to make them Coori-friendly, but they were lovely and fresh and full of flavour.
Beef & ale pie and chicken & mushroom pie
These were disappointing, as they were incredibly dry inside. It didn't really make any sense to me as to why a different pastry would make the filling so bland and dry. There was also a cheese one in the package, but we didn't get a chance to eat it before it went off (these had the shortest sell by dates of everything in the box).
Tortellini with a homemade tomato sauce
I honestly couldn't tell the difference between this and gluteny pasta, and the same goes for the ravioli (not pictured). It was slightly overcooked though (more on that below).
I've cooked a few more things too - we've made garlic bread with the foccacias, have thrown the lentils in plenty of salads and are planning to have the risotto for dinner tonight - and have taken a lot of the snacky bits into work, which has made me quite popular with my colleagues - everyone loved the cantucci and biscotti!
My criticisms would be that I wish Coori included a list of the items in the box - I had to sit and write that massive list out, but once I did it was so helpful as it meant I knew what food I had and what else I need to buy to turn it into meals. It's impressive that the items are sourced from lots of different locations, but an issue in that is that a few of the items have no English on the packaging which isn't very helpful for reading ingredients or knowing the cooking instructions. The fresh pastas, although they were in English, also had no cooking instructions - I had to google the cooking times, but as they weren't specific to gluten free they weren't quite right - I definitely overcooked the tortellini, for instance. I found that really annoying - it definitely needs to be addressed.
I'm lucky enough not to have any allergies so using this box for a month was more of a novelty for me, and I continued eating wheat and dairy the rest of the time. But I've suffered in the past, and have family members who do,so I know how expensive it can be - that's the best thing about the Coori box, as it's really reasonable considering how much food you get. I'd consider a box like this if someone in my family or I had allergies, for sure, although personally it would be something I'd dip into a couple of times a week rather than being the only food I cooked all month - I'm an improvisational cook and like a lot of variety.