“ Type: Pasta / Food quality: Organic food „
Asda's Organic range is usually good quality. I also feel confident when I choose such products that the food produced will contain no residual chemicals from pesticides used in the production process. Macaroni Cheese is a favourite dish of mine. I have opted for tinned versions in the past but due to a high fat content in my usual product moved onto frozen or chilled versions. Asda also do their own range frozen macaroni cheese which I have tried many times and enjoyed. In the frozen product the pasta is thin and 'al dente'. The sauce is not too thick and the top is covered with cheese crumbles which create interest and texture. In this organic range product, the pasta is quite stocky and soft. The sauce is much too thin - watery infact. Cooking in the microwave seems to make this issue worse. The taste is bland. It doesn't taste of cheese, rather more milk and the pasta is too mushy and seems overcooked. There seems to be no seasoning added. It is very difficult to eat without adding another ingredient just to enhance the little flavour there is. The packaging is superb quality but sadly is misleading as the picture of the product looks nothing like the real thing! The frozen Asda's own range macaroni cheese, which only looses points because it is not organic, is packaged in a more basic manner but it is a far superior product in taste and is better value overall.
I quite like macaroni cheese and I have tried Asda's tinned variety, which I use with cauliflower to make a macaroni and cauliflower bake. Passable, if not outstanding. So, when I saw this organic ready meal I thought it might be worth a try. It was on special offer at £1.49 so there really wasn't much to lose and I bought two. It is a chilled meal rather than my usual frozen ready meals. I do use ready meals sometimes as I work very long hours and often don't sit down to eat until very late, so I'm fully aware that these are often not 'proper food' and I didn't have a very high expectation of the product. I did, however, expect to be able to eat it. This product looked okay. The box is attractive and appealed to my 'green organic' self. Not that I'm a fanatic at all, I just like to eat organically where and when I can. Once you get rid of the cardboard sleeve you have a black plastic microwaveable dish with film on the top. To microwave simply pierce the film and cook for five minutes on high. Almost instant macaroni cheese, or, more correctly, what Asda calls macaroni cheese. This would have been perfect for sticking wallpaper. It was horrible. The macaroni was soft and soggy and the watery sauce had no flavour. (Even my dog refused to eat it and he normally eats anything. ) The smell was quite awful too. It had an aroma of singed potatoes. The kind of smell you get when the potatoes boil dry. I had bought two of these so the next time I decided that baking the meal in the oven might improve the texture, if not the flavour, and then I could add a little grated cheese to the top. It takes 25 minutes at 190C. What a waste of electricity. It was slightly more chewy and its glue factor had increased by at least 300% but it still didn't taste like macaroni cheese. (This was consumed by my dog after I added some extra cheese. I couldn't eat it myself.) The smell was more intense. This time it smelled of hot plastic. This product is very high in calories (155 per 100 gms) and also extremely high in fat at 7.5 per 100 gms. So, not only does it taste awful but it is also not very healthy. That's one unhealthy product that we will all find easy to cut out of our diets. Asda is usually quite reliable product wise but this was really bad. What a waste of money. They do have a money back guarantee but I really didn't fancy taking cold microwaved macaroni to the customer desk and asking for my money back.
I am no chef. I try but I simply fail and so my Mother does our household cooking (she's rubbish also but we haven't died of malnutrition as yet...) but she does buy me ready meals for when she goes out! Either that or she knows I'm stuffing dried crackers, cereal or my favourite..toast down my throat and she moans like hell that I don't eat properly all the time. (Saying that she doesn't realise that most ready meals are not 'real' food lol). Oddly enough I'm not a cheese fan like the rest of my family but I do love Macaroni cheese and cauliflower cheese. I think it takes me back to my youth and I consider it to be lovely, feel good food so when I spotted she'd got me this, pleased I was! Proves she does listen to me from time to time! The Packaging.... Firstly I asked Dooyoo for the link and for some reason it isn't the photograph I asked for. It don't matter, I have described it as accurately as I can but it doesn't look anything like it does on the review photograph at the top of this page! A cardboard 'sleeve' that slides off a 400g plastic, recyclable, black square container with a peel off clear plastic lid. The sleeve is brown and on the left hand side is a picture of cooked macaroni cheese and on the right hand side is a man holding a a wooden box which is filled with farm looking products and on the side of the box it says Asda Organics then underneath in white writing clearly states it is indeed macaroni Cheese ' Italian pasta in a creamy cheddar cheese sauce, topped with grated cheese. On the bottom left hand size is a blue bubble stating that this is a new product and on the bottom right hand side I'm told this is a freezable product and given a quick run down of nutritional values and best before date and told to keep the product refrigerated. On the back I'm told that most councils recycle this packaging, the ingredients, cooking instructions, nutritional values, allergy advice and how to store and the weight of the product (400g). All in all very 'rustic' looking packaging and in keeping with the idea that this is organic. So To Cook.... To Microwave.... 5 minutes. To Oven Cook... On a baking tray in centre of a preheated oven, 190c/gas mark 5 for 25 minutes in total. Nutritional Values....Per 100g Energy 155kcal Carbohydrate 16.0g of which is sugars 1.2g Fat 7.5g of which is saturates 4.5g Fibre 1.0g Sodium 0.22g equivalent as salt 0.6g Do be aware that this product contains gluten, milk and mustard and may contain traces of nuts and/or seeds. So Whats It Like? Well I microwaved mine and I felt this was my first mistake (the other being to actually eat it). Now I cooked it this way cos I can and I followed the instructions and it was cooked but it was sloppy and I felt I shouldve been patient and cooked it in the oven to give it colour and let the outside crisp up a bit but as I said I cooked it one of the recommended ways. It was cooked and did have steam coming out of it but... Visually it looked bland and unappetising. It was a pale yellow and just by looking at it you could see what you were about to eat was going to look like it tasted kind of thing. It was sloppy and wet on the top with a small trail of an oranagy coloured grease running down the centre. As I stuck my fork into it and swished it about to check it was cooked the underneath was kind of curdled and lumpy where as the top was smooth. I poured it on the plate and it was like a river of mess, it went everywhere and would be better served in a dish . It looked so boring and wet and had little texture. The colour as I have said was really pale creamy yellow and the pasta was small and upon eating the pasta, yes again it was cooked but talk about soggy and it was swimming in the sauce. I felt the pasta was too small and slimy and it got lost in the sauce. The consistency of this was like there was too much cream and milk in it and yes if you tried hard to taste it you could taste the cream. Yes you could smell cheese though not strong but the cheese was overpowered by the milk and cream and there wasn't enough in it in my opinion. Overall... Really disappointing. Not revolting and I did eat it but I didn't enjoy it and towards the end I ended up using a spoon to eat it with as it was less messy and I did feel sick towards the end of my meal. It not only looked uninteresting and unappetising it tasted that way and though I was full on a rather large portion I struggled to keep interest in eating it. The texture and taste were really bland and I'm not a salt fan, but even I threw on half a tub of salt on top of it to bring out the flavours in this dish and still it couldn't find flavour. The one thing you could do is put it in the oven to try get it cooked a bit 'harder' and throw on some cheese for the last few moments of cooking to give it extra flavour but me, as I said at the beginning of my review I'm no cook I just want something I can bung in a microwave and throw down me throat! If I'd of wanted soup I'd have had soup! Not nice, with no redeeming qualities! £1.50 Asda only to be found in chilled cabinet.