There is just nothing quite as comforting after a hard week as a hot bowl of fresh pasta. Alas, vegan fresh pasta is a bit hard to come by, with most supermarket options of the egg-based variety. Dried pasta, though perfectly adequate for the task at hand, lacks the luxurious quality of fresh pasta, as well as the cooking speed. Now there’s no reason you can’t make your own pasta if the tools are at your disposal, as well as a fair amount of time. But what if it’s Friday night and you’re worn down from working and you need your pasta fast and fresh?
Pasta Evangelists present themselves as the saviours of fresh pasta, and their inclusive weekly menu ensures no-one is left with an empty plate. Combining artisanal, restaurant-quality pasta with all the perks of home delivery, Pasta Evangelists hope to give everyone a slice of Italy through their front door. Their weekly menu features ten tantalising dishes, of which two are usually vegan, and an additional three to four vegetarian, from which you pick at least two per delivery. The price per dish ranges from £6.50 to £10, although the more expensive choices tend to be the meaty and the cheesy anyway. Cheaper than a restaurant meal (not that we currently have that option anyway) and somewhat more lavish than a takeaway, it toes the line of affordable luxury. Delivery is free with the flexible subscription, or you can opt for a one off pasta party. There’s also a 30% student discount for your first box, which certainly sweetens the deal.
For my box, I chose the ‘Pea & Mint Triangoli with Wild Rocket Pesto’ and the ‘Orecchiette all’Arrabbiata with a Spicy Tomato Sauce’, with the completely vegan ‘Aperitivo Snack Box’ for good measure. There’s something to be said about the anticipation of the box’s delivery, maybe there’s excitement in waiting, maybe there isn’t that much else to look forward to right now. Either way, Friday rolled in and I was itching for my pasta fix.
By the time the box arrived I was quite excited, which might just be a reflection on how dull my life is as the moment more so than the thrill of fresh pasta. Either way, I opened it up to find my pasta components and snack box all neatly packaged, with labels for which elements went together. Now admittedly, this isn’t my first box: I ordered initially a few weeks ago but wasn’t preparing to write a review. This first box had also come with a cocktail (Vegan White Russia) and two coconut-chocolate puddings, so I will admit I was a little disappointed when no such extras came with the second. Definitely made the price sting a bit more, but I suppose that’s just how these things go.
The deal is, you boil the pasta, heat the sauce (or simply toss with the cooked pasta if its a pesto) , add any toppings and tuck in. It’s all the gratification of feeling a bit chef-y without the need for exhaustive culinary skills or buckets of time.
I split my meals over two nights, starting with the Orecchiette all’Arrabbiata. Instructions for how long to cook the pasta and sauce, as well as some background information and tips for wine pairing, are provided in a handy little booklet. While the water boiled I enjoyed the Fennel Taralli from the snack box. Shaped like a circular breadstick, they were crunchy and fragrant with aniseed, and so moreish that I was quite disappointed that the packet was so small. I salted the boiling water liberally as per booklet instructions, and tipped in the orecchiette, stirring every few moments over the course of the three minutes to stop anything sticking. In a separate pan, the sauce bubbled gently, filling the air with the rich aromatic scent of fresh tomato. Once all was plated up and topped with a parsley crumb, I dived in.
The sauce carried the heady tomato flavours with a subtle spice from the chilli, and coated the pasta well without being too heavy. The orecchiette itself was perfectly al dente (or maybe I should give myself credit for that?), with the small dips in its shape carrying the sauce well. The crumb was a welcome textural shift, adding a gentle crispness to every bite. If I played some ambient noise and closed my eyes I could be in a little Italian restaurant instead of my kitchen.
The following evening I began with the Semi-Dried Tomatoes and Artichoke Hearts from the snack box. Again, small portions, but the delicate sweetness of the olive-oil soaked tomatoes and tang of the artichoke were certainly sufficient to excite the senses. Neither were rubbery like the jarred varieties from supermarket shelves, which again pulled me back to dreaming of Italy. The Pea & Mint Triangoli was easy enough to throw together; the little ravioli-esque parcels were boiled for three minutes, then tossed in a vibrant green pesto. Of all the meals, this was one I felt somewhat let down by. While certainly flavoursome and aesthetically pleasing, the garlic in the sauce overpowered the subtle herbal hints of mint. If it had been just a regular pasta with pesto, I don’t think the garlic would be a problem, but for what I was sold I didn’t quite feel satisfied. Nonetheless, the pasta itself was well-formed, with no leakage from the ‘parcel’ during cooking.
My Pasta Evangelists experience was certainly enjoyable to say the least, and I think there’s something to be said about finding entertainment in the process too, especially as we are so starved of entertainment currently. For a one-off or irregular treat when you feel like something fancier than a standard take-away, I can certainly recommend the box. I’m less convinced by the subscription, especially as the vegan options don’t tend to vary much week on week, and the lack of freebies after the first box may have stung me slightly. On the whole, certainly an authentic taste of Italy that will have you longing for the days when restaurants can open again.
Overall Rating: 4/5
Check out Pasta Evangelists here, and follow them on Instagram @pastaevangelists.