“ Brand: Tesco / Type: Other Ready Meals „
There are some nights when I just don't fancy cooking yet I know what I want so it's times like this that I usually send my other half out armed with a shopping list full of goodies to bring back on his motorbike. After one of his recent trips he came back with two Tesco Finest Spaghetti Carbonaras that had been reduced from their usual price of £3.50 down to 75p and were just too cheap to pass up!
The packaging is just the same as with any other ready meal in that your meal comes provided in a plastic tray which has a plastic film seal and then there is a paper sleeve that covers the meal and shows you the usual nutritional information, ingredients, cooking instructions etc. The packaging does have a fairly luxurious look to it but I would never be tempted by something as vain as this anyway as it just gets thrown in to the bin once you have cooked your meal.
The meal itself is very easy to cook taking either 20-25 minutes in the oven at 190 degrees or 4 minutes in the microwave (depending on the wattage of your microwave). I have found this best cooked in the oven and I usually allow an extra five minutes or so. To cook I simply stabbed the film lid a few times and then placed it directly in the oven.
The meal looks appetising even within the plastic tray and I can see that there is plenty of everything including mountains of sauce. I can see nice generous sized pieces of ham and fairly large slices of mushroom. The sauce looks lovely and creamy and delicious before it's even cooked so I was instantly pleased as I knew that this was going to be a gorgeous meal!
Ingredients: Cooked Free Range Egg Spaghetti, Skimmed Milk, Single Cream, Mushroom (7%), Smoke Flavoured Pancetta (7%), Water, Full Fat Soft Cheese, Grana Padano Cheese (contains Egg Lysozyme), Cornflour, Sea Salt, Black Pepper. Cooked Free Range Egg Spaghetti contains: Water, Durum Wheat Semolina, Free Range Egg. Smoke Flavoured Pancetta contains: Pork Belly, Salt, Smoke Flavouring, Nutmeg, White Pepper, Dextrose, Coriander, Garlic, Curing Salt (Potassium Nitrate, Sodium Nitrite).
The quality of the ingredients in this product really does show through and I could tell the difference between the standard Tesco one and the Finest one from the very first mouthful. The spaghetti is lovely and firm without being undercooked and it has just the right level of softness to make it almost melt in the mouth. The sauce is deliciously creamy, cheesy and smooth. There are delicious pieces of mushroom that taste good quality and have kept their taste well. The pancetta is so much better than the tiny pieces of ham that are normally thrown in to a ready meal carbonara. The whole dish has a wonderful taste to it and there is the perfect amount of each ingredient to bring something wonderful to my mouth. The dish works very well and I can tell that there really is fantastic quality products within this packet.
Overall I was very pleased with the quality of this product and in particular the price that we had paid. I would buy this again if I saw it on special offer and while the product is tasty I would not justify spending £3.50 on it as I could make a few more portions for the same amount of money.
Each portion (450g) contains 590 calories, 24.3g protein, 63.5g carbohydrates (of which 6.3g sugars), 26.6g fat (of which 13.7g saturates), 2.7g fibre & 1.9g salt. This is not too bad at all considering how creamy and tasty the sauce is. The pancetta is the best addition to this dish and the creamy sauce is a close runner up! I was left feeling very full after enjoying this meal and it was the perfect size to be enjoyed as a dinner in the evening without leaving me wanting to snack afterwards.
I normally never buy ready meals and don't really like them but this is one that I do buy as it really is good quality. It is from the Tesco Finest range which is better quality and a little bit more luxurious than the standard Tesco Brand. The meal comes in a tray with a film lid, which is then in a cardboard sleeve. The cardboard sleeve has a picture of the product and the recognisable silver and black of Finest packaging.
When you remove the cardboard sleeve, the meal looks really apetising. Unlike may ready meals, which look a bit sad and sub standard, this one looks as if it's been home made. There is plenty of sauce and you can see huge chunks of ham and nice big slices of mushroom - not like in most ready meals where the ingredients are unrecognisable little chunks of something pretending to be a mushroom or a pepper etc. You can also see quite alot of parnesan shavings. The colour of the sauce is pale and creamy.
The meal takes around 4 minutes in a Category E microwave, although I have found like with many other ready meals it's a good idea to keep stirring the product at intervals during cooking to ensure the product is heated through. The taste doesn't disappoint, it tastes authentic and it doesn't seem to have that processed, manufactured taste about it. The sauce is really creamy and the huge chunks of ham and mushroom are really juicy, not at all dry. The ham is not processed ham, it is proper pancetta, so it doesn't taste as if some machine has chucked a load of Billy Bear in there and called it ham.
I also find that there is plenty to fill me up. I am a big eater but I'm not hungry after this. Price wise, I think it is on offer at Tesco at the moment for £2. Normally it is about £2.89. Another good thing about this is that the spaghetti is free range egg pasta, this is good as you will find that most ready meals and ready made cakes are made with battery eggs.
Obviously I would recommend trying to make your own sauce as much as possible and not to live on ready meals but this is an excellent thing to buy or have in the freezer if you need a quick meal but don't want to sacrifice taste or quality.