The box was chilled and sealed and felt light. Opening it up I found two sealed chicken breasts, a sealed zucchini, sealed pasta and individual plastic containers holding salt, pepper, butter, garlic, Italian seasoning, crème fraiche, olive oil and shaved parmesan, plus I had a copy of a step-by-step guide to cooking Chicken with Garlic over Fettuccini.
The box came from Ana Dan, owner of Sage and Hyde Away, and I was about to try Sage’s new Sage at Home, https://sagevt.com/sage-at-home, offering which are meal kits featuring measured and prepped ingredients to create a dish from the Sage kitchen at home. Dan calls them Experience Boxes.
The meals are prepared for two people, but can be customizable for as many as needed. They can be picked up between 3 and 5 p.m. or delivered for a fee. There are currently four meals and several sides and Dan said there would soon be six to eight selections. Cocktails and wine are also available.
First step, read the instructions which called for prepping the chicken by drying it and seasoning with salt and pepper. Start a pot of water heating for the pasta. Open the zucchini and slice lengthwise before slicing thinly across. Uh-oh, it was a cucumber and not a zucchini. I substituted broccoli cut into very small florets so as to be about the size of the zucchini that wasn’t and then chopped some garlic and capers and set aside.
The olive oil that came with the kit smelled good and fruity while it heated for sautéing the chicken which got cooked and set aside as the pasta cooked and the vegetable was sautéed with garlic. The pasta got drained, except for ½ cup of the cooking water. Everything then went into the pasta pot, the vegetables, the crème fraiche, the butter, the pasta and some pasta water. A garlic and caper sauce simmered together while the contents of the pot got plated and were topped with sliced chicken tops with the garlic sauce. The shaved parmesan topped it all off.
The portions were big and the flavors were bold and it took about 40 minutes from start to finishing, including cutting the broccoli florets down to the right size. It was fun, as it always is, to make something new for dinner. Dan apologized about the zucchini, noting that the boxes were in beta-testing mode, but that ended up not mattering at all.
Dan said that part of the thinking in developing the meal boxes was to make them turnkey for people coming to The Valley that were going into condos or other rentals that may have completely empty kitchens.