“ Brand: Sainsbury's / Type: Beef „
There are many convenience ready meals produced nowadays, all in varying degree's of quality and cost, and one of the most common as that Italian favorite, lasagne. Having previously eaten ready-made lasagne's before, I was expecting more of the same flavors, aromas and textures with Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' version. I usually buy the Tesco standard version out of sheer laziness (we have a Tesco next door to work), and have never been all that impressed with it, and the frozen bargain versions are really truly awful. So it's fair to say that my expectations were not the highest. Here is my review of Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' Beef Lasagne.
It's worth noting that I will be reviewing the 400g 'single portion' of this product, as the larger version that Dooyoo have as an image was not available, but I would imagine the product would taste the same. This one was titled Lasagne al Forno (Lasagne to the Furnace).
--Jamie's Little Sideline...--
Love him or hate him, (and personally I want to strangle him!) Jamie Oliver is the face of Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' range, and does this with annoying aplomb in the TV adverts. Many times we will see him creating recipes out of ingredients from the 'Taste the Difference' selection, and with most of us either not being able to cook, cook badly or just simply haven't got the time, Sainsbury's have a ready-meal selection of these high quality foods. We mostly don't see Jamie serving these up though.
Of course, Sainsbury's 'Taste the Difference' range is in competition with Tesco's Finest, Asda's Extra Special and Morrisons' The Best. I have very rarely bought food from any of these ranges, always opting for the standard versions of the same products. Cost is normally the reason for this, but I have tried some of these so-called 'Highest Quality' ranges and found very little difference if any at all. Upon buying this item I was feeling no different, seemingly expensive for such a small amount, but after tasting this particular product, I could be persuaded to switch to Sainsbury's by a certain Mr Oliver after all.
--Packaging and Price--
This item is the 400g variation and comes in a foil container, with a film seal and a white card sleeve. The design is very straightforward, with a purple and white layout, with silver and gold wording and highlights and a typical serving suggestion picture of the product, displayed in the utmost impeccability . I never get my food looking like this. The sleeve slides off without fuss, the film seal can be a little tricky to get off in one go, and the foil tray is thick and sturdy, but easy to cut for the removal of the lasagne.
At £3, for a single 1 portion meal, this is quite expensive. Standard and bargain lasagne's can cost as low as 89 pence, but I guarantee you won't be getting the same quality meat and ingredients. It really is up to you to part with this kind of money, and I think it's justified as long as the quality is substantially higher than the standard ranges.
On the back of the sleeve is all the relevant information, along with Sainsbury's overblown description if the lasagne. Cooking instructions are clear and easy to read, and the 'traffic light' system they use is handy as a quick glance for the all important calorie count. Showing the GDA percentages would be useful however.
The card, metal and plastics used in the packaging are fully recyclable. The protective film however is not and must be disposed of responsibly.
--Taste and Texture--
I have to wholly admit here, that I was very, very surprised by the quality of taste this lasagne as to offer. The first thing I noticed was that after cooking, there was no tell-tale red oil settled on the top, something which I have found common with cheaper ready-to-eat lasagnes. This was a promising start. I always overcook my lasagne's slighty, because I like to have a slightly crispy edge on the top layer, this sometimes has a drawback of solidifying the white sauce and a bit of leaking of the tomato. This wasn't the case here, and the meal slipped effortlessly out of the foil container, and my fork slid easily down and cut a chuck out, it really was like a TV advert!
The taste of the beef is mostly prevalent, and what a lovely taste it is too, very succulent and lean, not salty and a real melt-in-the-mouth texture. The tomato, pasta and sauce combine to create a delicious background presence, and you can really taste the sweetness of the Chianti coming through. The Béchamel sauce is the ideal consistency; it doesn't run all through the lasagne or alternatively stick the pasta sheet together in the solid block, it is smooth, creamy and not overly cheesy either. Also, the sauce is only on the first layer, so is almost the right amount for my taste. I would prefer a little more sauce, but only a tad more, so this was not a problem. The pasta is thin, soft and easy to cut. There are four sheets in this lasagna, which seems the perfect amount. The tomato ragu has a hand in all this too of course, with a nice subtle twang filtering through the beef with a pleasant tomato after-taste.
I don't normally praise ready-meals in such a manner, but this has to be the finest, (sorry Sainbury's for the Tesco reference) and tastiest ready-to-eat lasagne I have eaten. It doesn't have an overly oily or salty taste, it isn't overloaded with sauce or cheese and is not parsimonious on the meat either. Did Mr Oliver cook this himself or what? Another thing I like about this product, and this is purely for my personal taste, is that the vegetables in the recipe are nicely cut up, no chunky tomato's or onion in this meal. I like this, but don't fret, they are not cut up to the point of being a mulch, and are still relevant and tasty to the whole meal.
--Ingredients and Nutrition Information--
Beef, Tomato and Pancetta Ragu (57%);North Highlands Beef (38%), Tomato, Onion, Tomato Juice, Beef Stock, Carrot, Chianti Wine, Pancetta (5% - Pork Belly, Salt, Wine, Sugar, Garlic, Antioxident - Sodium Ascorbate, Potassium Nitrate, Sodium Nitrate), Tomato Pureé, Celery, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Cornflour, Garlic Pureé, Sea Salt, Sugar, Oregano, Salt, Rosemary, Sage, Thyme, Black Pepper, Porcini Mushroom Powder, Bay.
Cooked Free Range Egg Pasta (21%);Durum Wheat Semolina, Water, Free Range Egg (13%), Free Range Egg White. Béchamel Sauce; Cow's Milk, Wheat Flour, Butter, Double Cream, Salt, White Pepper, Nutmeg, Bay. Parmigiano Cheese.
Allergy Information: This product contains Milk, Celery and Wheat Gluten.
Quantity per packet.
Energy - 589 kcal
Protein - 39.6g
Fat in total - 20.4g
Of Saturates - 10.2g
Carbohydrate in total - 64.4g
Of Sugars - 15.2g
Sodium - 0.24g
Salt Equivalent - 0.60g
On the label there are no percentages for GDA, but there is a 'traffic light' guide. This clearly shows the fat content is rather high, as is the carbohydrates, but a low sugar level. It seems you will have the sacrifice that after tea cake if you wish to indulge in this, and to be honest, I think it would be worth it.
I am left surprised in more ways than one after eating this product. My personal assumptions on 'High Range' products is proved to be completely unfounded (at least for Sainsbury's), this is a very nice ready-meal indeed, and one of the tastiest I have eaten for sure. I'm more in shock by the fact that an irritating TV chef has proved me wrong as well!
Although the quality of the ingredients and recipe are without question out of the top drawer, you are going to pay for this, both in your pocket and on your belly. As always, the best tasting meals are the least healthy in the fat stakes. This lasagne is too nice to miss however, so after eating mine, I'm off to run it off.
Un lasagne squisito!
Thanks for Reading. © Novabug
Also Posted on Ciao.co.uk.