I recently received, of all things, canned vegetables to sample from my friends at Allens. Now I know what you might be thinking, canned vegetables and gluten – yep, many canned items, particularly those that are seasoned can contain some form of gluten that may or may not be obvious are part of the flavorings or ingredients. I am not normally a canned veg kind of guy but was actually intrigued by the cool variety that I received. There was Triple Succotash; Tomatoes, Okra, and Corn; Hoppin’ John with Vidalia Onions; Seasoned Cabbage; and Seasoned Mixed Greens. I had never heard of this brand before nor had I seen it on the shelves at my local grocers so it was nice to get a taste of a new brand.
I started with the Triple Succotash which was in a tomato base and had corn and butter beans that paired very well together. The beans and corn still had a nice firmness to them – even after heating – which really gave it the fresh taste edge. The tomatoes were still chunky and provided a nice mild acidic kick to the earthiness of the beans.
Next up was the Tomatoes, Okra, and Corn mix. Now, in full disclosure I love okra. It is probably one of my all-time favorite vegetables (and one of the most under-rated and used). I do not often indulge in my okra need because quite frankly it is hard to track down good fresh okra throughout the year and previous canned incarnations tended to be slimy messes – not the case with Allens. This was probably my favorite item in the lot because the okra was not slimy and actually maintained it shape and consistency – how they did it I do not know, but I am definitely not complaining. You get the unique taste of the okra paired with the tomatoes and corn with just a hint of sugary sweetness providing a fantastic balance to the tangy tomatoes.
The next day I decided to crack open a large can of their Seasoned Hoppin’ John with Vidalia Onions. Now, my other half is Bermudian and knows a thing about Hoppin’ John. Allens version was really very good and the blackeyed peas were nice and firm. Allens version contained red and green bell pepper and the perfect snap of spice from the Vidalia onions and just a hint of smokiness. We both really enjoyed this variety and it was nice that it was a vegetarian version of the classic dish.
Continuing my vegetable adventure, I opened the Seasoned Cabbage which was chock-full of spices with very subtle smoky undertones. There was also just a hint of sweetness in this one that really made the sweetness of the cabbage pop even more. All in all it was very nice.
Rounding out this vegetable extravaganza was their Seasoned Mixed Greens. This one contained mustard and turnip greens – two of my most favorite greens and right up there with my love of okra. Now mustard and turnip greens are not something you see everyday in canned form and rarely have I seen them together (if at all). This version was really very good with a nice with a hint of sweet and spiciness that played perfectly off the earthy taste of the greens.
Now I am really a fresh veg kind of guy but in all honesty there are times when I appreciated being able to reach into the pantry and grab out a simple heat and eat type side dish. Allens has such an interesting variety or products in their portfolio that you can get as adventurous (or not) as you like. One of my main concerns with pre-packaged food is that it is either too salty or I have to worry about what they are sneaking in to make it taste good. This was not the case with any of the products I sampled from Allens. All of the products I sampled were in fact cholesterol and saturated fat free which was very much appreciated. I really like the fact that many of their products come in small and large sizes which makes them perfect for singles, couples, and families alike. For those of you that are watching their sodium intake, Allens also has sodium-free options. All of Allens canned products are gluten-free which is nice because you can take the guess work out of your shopping trip. Do check out the company’s Web site for their complete product portfolio as well as inftheir other brands.