“ Brand: Sainsbury's / Type: Other Ready Meals „
When peckish on my lunch break recently I decided to go for a wander and see if I could find a nice ready meal to heat up in the microwave at work. I opted for something from Sainsburys, a 'Taste The Difference Spaghetti Bolognese' as the meals were on 2 for £5.00 so I could purchase one meal for my lunch and one for my other half to have for dinner when he got home from work. I opted for the bolognese purely because I'm a big fan of bolognese, I often make my own sauces, and wanted to try something I knew I would like. Many of the items in the Taste The Difference range have recently been redesigned and this also prompted my decision to buy a ready meal that was slightly more expensive than what I would usually pay.
This spaghetti bolognese comes provided in a plastic container that is suitable for the microwave and once I removed the cardboard sleeve, containing all the usual information, I was able to prick the plastic film and then cook this in the microwave for ten minutes (just to make sure it's thoroughly cooked). The cooking time was reasonable and I was pleased with the ease of cooking as I was on my lunch break and didn't want to have to fuss!
When the dish was cooking there was a wonderful smell and I could smell lots of herbs and just a general, spot on, bolognese smell. Once my meal was cooked I just peeled back the plastic that I had pierced and was ready to begin digging in to my lunch. There was lots of spaghetti as well as a generous serving of beef with bolognese sauce on the top and there was some Parmigiano Reggiano cheese throughout the dish also.
When I tasted this dish I was pleasantly surprised. The beef was flavoursome, succulent and well cooked without being too rubbery. There was a lovely blend of herbs in the sauce which gave it quite an authentic flavour. The Parmigiano Reggiano cheese brought a fantastic, slightly salty, edge to the beef which worked very well. The pasta was cooked to perfection, another minute and it would have been too soft but that's my own fault for not following the cooking guidelines exactly.
Each meal contains 741 calories, 60.8g protein, 56g of carbohydrates (of which 7.6g sugars), 30.4g fat (of which 8.8g saturates), 5.2g fibre & 1g of salt. Obviously this is a vast amount of fat for a 400g meal but I would expect nothing less from a bolognese dish!
Overall I was pleasantly surprised with just how enjoyable this meal was. My mouth was watering before I even began to eat. There was lots of sauce to coat the spaghetti with and the cheese complemented the dish perfectly. The sauce contained lots of different herbs and was almost as good as one I would make myself from scratch.
PRICE: £2.74 per 400g pack, currently on special offer at £2
NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION (per pack):
(of which sugars): 9.5g
(of which starch): 40.2g
(of which saturates): 11.3g
(of which mono-unsaturates): 15.0g
(of which polyunsaturates): 1.9g
(of which sodium): 0.65g
Tomato, water, Scotch beef, beef extract, tomato concentrate, carrot concentrate, onion concentrate, garlic concentrate, thyme, parsley, rosemary, pepper, Chianti wine, carrot, tomato puree, celery, pancetta, extra virgin olive oil, cornflour, garlic puree, oregano, porcini mushroom powder, sea salt, sage, black pepper, bay, durum wheat semolina, free range egg, rapeseed oil
Contains egg, celery and wheat gluten
Most of the time I make my own spaghetti bolognese, as it's an easy dish to cook, being something I can pre-prepare, then let bubble away on top of the cooker without having to pay it too much attention. Recently I had an attack of the super-lazies, and popped a pack of Sainsbury's Spaghetti Bolognese into my trolley. To be honest, I wasn't expecting too much of the product, as in the past when I've used spaghetti bolognese ready meals of varying brands, they have often been only marginally edible.
Sainsbury's Spaghetti Bolognese is from their "Taste The Difference" food range, and can be found in the chilled ready-meals section of the supermarket. It comes in a dark plum-coloured deep plastic tray which is covered with a seal, and the card wrapper is largely the same colour, showing an image of a serving of the product on the front. The rear of the card wrapper shows nutritional information, ingredients, allergy advice, storage/cooking instructions, recycling information and Sainsbury's contact details.
Inside the deep dish, the spaghetti bolognese looks good. Although I wouldn't personally say the portion is large enough to feed two adults, there's ample for one. The dish was packed full to the top, and the spaghetti looked rather thin cut, nicely curled up, liberally coated with what looked like a rich, thick minced beef and tomato sauce.
The meal can be microwaved or cooked in a conventional oven, and I opted for the latter. Before placing in the oven, the plastic seal on the heat-proof plastic tray needs to be pierced several times. During the cooking process, a rather nice smell of herbs and garlic permeated the kitchen, and it made me feel very hungry. Still dubious as to whether I'd be impressed with this meal, I couldn't deny that it smelled so very much better than all other brands I've tried.
On removing from the oven, the plastic covering peeled off very easily, which I thought was a very good start. The smell rising up from the bolognese was utterly mouth-watering - herby, tomatoey and garlicky. A couple of the ends of the spaghetti strands had begun to crisp up, but not unpleasantly so. The only thing I was a little dubious about was the meal did seem very oily. The excess oil had collected around the edges of the dish, but I was able to easily pour it away (I don't like my food too oily/greasy).
To save washing up, I decided to eat the spaghetti straight from the container. I sprinkled the top with some parmesan cheese, and my accompaniment to the main meal was beer-battered onion rings (which I shall review separately) and a small single serving sized loaf of garlic bread.
I sat down and prepared to begin the meal after having stirred the spaghetti around a little. In the sauce, I could see tiny little pieces of tomato, which showed me that it was more than just puree, and the meat serving was ample.
Taste test! I curled a wodge of the long spaghetti strands around my fork with a dollop of the bolognese sauce and eased into my mouth. The meat was extremely tender - little or no chewing was required - and the sauce tasted delicious. It was very tomatoey, yet at the same time I could distinguish between the flavours of the different ingredients used, such as garlic, celery powder, red wine and the different herbs. The spaghetti was cooked just right; al dente, without being too hard, and on chewing, I didn't even notice the slight little bits at the end of some of the strands which had appeared to go crispy during the cooking process.
The ratio of sauce to spaghetti was absolutely spot-on perfect, and the whole thing tasted beautiful. In fact, it was very similar to the spaghetti bolognese which I make from scratch for myself, and I gobbled up every vestige with a greed that's even beyond my own personal norm. The portion is an ideal size for one person who has a good appetite, and there's no doubt that I'll be buying this product again, especially as there are no 'nasties' in the ingredients list - everything appears to be real, not chemically-enhanced food.
The only minor gripe I have is that there is this over-oiliness, but it's not difficult to remedy, because the oil pours away with ease. Considering the oiliness and the size of the portion, I don't think the calorie content for the whole thing is too bad, as though I had accompaniments, it really is a meal in itself - of course the addition of parmesan or any other kind of cheese will hike up the calories quite considerably.
In conclusion, I will say that Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Spaghetti Bolognese is a first class, very high quality product, which is wonderfully tasty and reasonably priced. If I were to make my own, it would cost more than current special offer price of £2, but I still feel this to be well worth the full price of £2.74.
Spot on Sainsbury's.....it's DELICIOUS!
Thanks for reading!
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