If you’ve been to the supermarket lately, chances are that you might already be aware that Schwartz have brought out a new gluten-free range of their very popular spice mixes. Marketing has been out in full force to celebrate the launch, with stands out in several supermarkets I’ve been to advertising the new products.
These include gluten-free versions of several of the brand’s most popular products, offering spice mixes for the following dishes:
- Gluten-free spaghetti bolognaise
- Gluten-free fajitas
- Gluten-free chicken casserole
- Gluten-free cottage pie
But the one I was desperate to try, and the one I’m reviewing today, is their gluten-free chilli con carne mix.
Back in my early uni days, and my first forays into cooking properly for myself on a regular basis, I practically lived off chilli con carne made with a Schwartz packet. It was just so easy, and so reliably delicious – especially when you used the ‘hot’ version. I can remember stretching out on the kitchen sofa at three o’clock in the afternoon, happily eating a big bowl of chili that I’d defrosted on a whim for a very late breakfast. You only enjoy that kind of freedom once in your life!
Of course, that was almost six years ago. Nowadays, I’m a diagnosed coeliac and also a vegetarian – so those easy, delicious chilli con carnes are definitely off the table (ahem). I also do like to make my food from scratch these days, where I can, and two of my favourite vegetarian chilli recipes are ones from the vegetarian blog Cookie + Kate, and a chocolate chili and cornbread recipe from The World of the Happy Pear. Nevertheless, veggie chilli is undoubtedly more laborious, with all those extra vegetables to prepare. Consequently, it was very exciting to see that Schwartz, finally, have brought out a version of this mix, as it seemed to me a good excuse to road test Quorn gluten-free mince as a bit of an easier veggie chlili dinner.
A quick skim of the ingredients list is encouraging, as it reads very similarly to that of the original, with paprika, cumin and cocoa powder featuring prominently. 😋 Potato starch and ‘anti-caking agent’ seem to be the secrets behind this gluten-free version.
At around £1.25 a packet, depending on where you buy it from, it’s not exactly cheap, though. Their regular packets are around 85p each, so that’s quite a premium to pay for gluten free. I’d be interested to know the justification for this; you have the development of the product and possibly also of a dedicated gluten-free facility or dedicated processes, I suppose. Coeliacs are used to paying more for things such as bread and other baked goods, but hypothetically it seems like a relatively simple swap of potato starch for wheat flour…
It’s been over three years since I last ate Schwartz’s regular chilli con carne mix, but I can still summon up the taste and texture of it (I ate so much of it at one point that it would be hard to forget!). I used to love it so much that I was incredibly apprehensive, taking my first bite of the gluten-free version – I needn’t have worried, however. I was instantly transported back to my chilli-loving uni days; it was flavourful, rich, delicious and comforting, just how I remember the original. There’s a good hint of spice, but it’s not actively spicy, I’d say. It tastes pretty much like the original packet mix, and the consistency is as good – it pulls together the tomatoes and the mince very well, giving it a smooth, velvety texture.
Schwartz do provide a recipe suggestion on the back of the packet, but it’s quite basic, so I improvised a little (recipe is posted below), adding butternut squash, onion and some extra garlic. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the quorn mince was; the texture of the chilli, as you can see from the images, was great and very authentically ‘meaty’. The flavour was perhaps a little less rich than you might get with fattier regular beef mince but, with the vibrant flavour of the Schwartz packet, you really didn’t miss it. Or, at least, I didn’t!
All in all, it might be relatively expensive for what it is, but it’s a taste I thought I’d never enjoy again, so really I can’t be anything other than thrilled that Schwartz have given that back to me. ^^
Easy weekday butternut squash veggie chilli
(or, chilli sin carne, if you will – you probably won’t)
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
- ½ medium butternut squash, deseeded and peeled
- 1 Schwartz gluten-free chilli con carne mix
- 1 pack of Quorn gluten-free mince (check that you’ve got the gluten-free version – I used the 300g frozen packet)
- 400g tin chopped tomatoes
- 400g tin red kidney beans (rinsed and drained)
- Roast the butternut squash in the oven for half an hour with a drizzle of oil until nice and soft. You can do this the night before, if you like, or omit the squash completely if you don’t have the time. The point of this recipe is to be quick and easy, but the squash is a nice addition if doable!
- Dice the squash into rough chunks.
- Fry the onion in a little bit of oil over a low–medium heat for five minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure it doesn’t catch. Add the squash and the garlic, and cook for another five.
- Add in the quorn mince and cook for three minutes over a higher heat, stirring.
- Pour in the chopped tomatoes, fill the empty can halfway with water and then add that in too. Now, add the kidney beans and the packet mix and stir until everything is combined.
- Simmer for twenty minutes, stirring occasionally. Serve with rice, and fresh coriander to garnish.
We had some cauliflower in the fridge, and I tried to persuade my boyfriend to try the chilli with some ‘cauliflower rice’ (cauliflower that’s been blitzed in the food processor and then lightly cooked to make a low-carb version of rice) – but he was immovable. It was a vegetarian step too far. Wholegrain rice it was, which did make for a lovely, filling, hearty meal.
This chilli would also be delicious if you served it with a rough homemade salsa: avocado and cherry tomatoes – chopped, seasoned and mixed with a little lemon or lime juice!
The other of the new mixes that I’d like to try at some point is the spaghetti bolognaise, as that did occasionally make it into my uni repertoire, too. ^^ So I might follow this post up with a part II at some point! Have you tried any of the new Schwartz packets yet?