Life has got the better of me recently. I’ve been super busy every day for a good few weeks with not enough time for meal planning and cooking properly. This makes me very susceptible to ideas from companies like the Lake District Dairy Co., who offer products that turn what could have been an orange food night due to lack of time into a quick and easy home-cooked meal that is so much better for me, and a lot more satisfying.
Quark is not a new ingredient to me. I tried it out a little while ago for Splodz Blogz with varying success. It is an alternative to lots of dairy based ingredients like cream cheese, double cream, creme fraiche and yogurt. It is naturally low in fat and high in protein and can be cooked into meals or used cold for desserts. To make using Quark even easier, the Lake District Dairy Co. have created a suite of new cooking sauces that simply need heating through before serving.
I tried three super simple mid-week dinners using the one each of the three new varieties of Quark cooking sauces – Garlic & Herb, Tikka, & Tomato and Basil.
Spaghetti “Quarkonara” uses Quark Garlic & Herb instead of the traditional cheese sauce. Using quick cook spaghetti, a packet of cooked ham hock, and fresh parsley made this meal one of the quickest to prepare and cook that you might imagine – cupboard to table in less than 10 minutes. I added frozen peas into the mix, too, because you always need something colourful on your plate. The Quark sauce made a useful alternative to a home made sauce, and the fact that it means this meal has less than 4g of fat per serving is a definite reason to give it a try. Don’t be fooled into thinking it’ll taste the same as a fatty, cheesy carbonara, though – Quark has its own flavour that comes through in the Garlic & Herb sauce quite strongly; not unpleasant but not quite the same as the recipe you’ll be used to.
The Chicken Tikka and Quark Rice recipe is a one-pot meal that makes use of the Tikka cooking sauce. I found it easy to make, taking about half an hour from start to finish, there was little to go wrong which is good when you’re tired after a long day at work. This was also a decent filling meal with its chicken, rice and vegetables – and with just 380 calories per portion it’s low compared to a similar meal made with Greek yogurt. Having said that, the Quark flavour comes through once again; having a touch of cream cheesey flavour in a chicken tikka meal is a bit strange, and not something that I’m sure I could get used to.
The last meal I tried was Gnocci with Spinach and Tomato & Basil Quark Sauce. This introduced me to shop bough gnocci and I have to say I was quite impressed with those – and you can freeze them, too, so I now have some waiting to be used another time. This dinner is so fast, starting on the hob and finishing under the grill. Despite having just a few ingredients, the flavours and textures were really nice, and it was definitely the best of the three meals. The Tomato & Basil cooking sauce did it’s job really well this time – the cheesy tang you get from the Quark actually complemented the dish rather than confusing it. We had it as per the recipe with a bit of rocket salad but next time I’ll be having some warm crusty bread (using up the calories saved by having Quark instead of double cream) with it to mop up all the juices.
These new Quark cooking sauces by the Lake District Dairy Co got a slightly mixed reception in our house, really. While they are naturally low in fat, high in protein, and incredibly easy to use, they do need careful use so the slightly cheesy tang doesn’t confuse your recipe. Worth experimenting with, I’d say.
If you want to try these new cooking sauces for yourself you’ll find them in the chilled dairy cabinet in your local Sainsburys.
Disclaimer: Thanks to Lake District Company for sending me a hamper of ingredients so I could make these three meals at home. Oh, and thanks for my wooden spoon!