“ Brand: Tesco / Type: Other Ready Meals „
First off, the packaging has changed quite considerably from the catalogue photo. It now has a green background and has a more fun theme than its former plain look. This tagliatelle carbonara cost just £1, which I though was excellent, especially as a student. Even though I don't often eat ready meals, it is an easy, quick meal when you're just having one of those days when you don't feel like cooking. This meal is decsribes on the box as 'green and white tagliatelle in a cheese sauce with smoked reformed ham and mushrooms'. I'm ot sure what reformed ham is, but I admit I was slightly put off with this obviously highly processed meat. Another problem I had with the contents of this product was the high salt content. Although this is common in ready meals, I was shocked that this tagliatelle carbonara had 47% of your daily allowance! (2.8g out of an allowance of 6g) Portion wise, I think this was very good. Pasta is already filling, but the cheese sauce is so nice and creamy in addition to make a great, filling meal. Although I would recommend some vegetables to give a bit of variety. The only bad point is that the ham turns out slightly chewy, but the mushrooms are perfect. The cheese sauce does not have an overly powerful presence, which might be seen as a bad point, but I think that if it were, there would be too much flavour with the ham and mushroom. All in all, I thought this was great as an easy meal. I oven cooked mine, taking 40-45 mins, but there is the option of microwaving which is obviously quicker. I recommend this for taste and potrion size, but probably not too often because of the salt content.
Recently I have found myself without a traditional cooker for a period and have had to rely on microwave meals. Normally I cook most of my own food, but this represents a return to my bad old days, when as a student I would munch through many a microwave meal. So, off I trotted to the local Tesco, and then Asda (they're on the way.), in search of good value ready meals (at the lower end of the budget, around £1 - £1.50. To be fair that's not a lot of value to work with, but these giants surely can squeeze blood from their manufacturers if it's needed. Tagliatelle Carbonara was a staple, and a favourite. At the time there was a lot less variety than there is today, and I had hoped that there would have been a significant improvement in taste, what with food technology moving on. I bought two Carbonaras from Tesco a super-budget brand Trattoria Verdi (sub-"Tesco" own brand brand if you know what I mean), and just to compare, the ordinary Tesco brand one. The Trattoria one being 9p cheaper than the Tesco 'own' brand one at £1.09. So, here's the highlights of the Tesco Tagliatelle Carbonara as reviewed: Sauce: Thick enough, but clearly due to thickener - a watery tasting 'mushroom soup' (without the mushrooms), with a funny onion taste. Vaguely tasting carbonara-like due to the presence of smoked pork - which appears fairly inauthentic and to be of average quality. Pasta: Presumably fresh, but not obvious at first. A little jelly like (higher water content), but not terrible. Not much positive to say there, but there's enough to eat, and it doesn't taste unpleasant. Just fairly unremarkable. Folks there's simply no comparison to be made between this and the Trattoria Verdi (which you can find at your Tesco one freezer cabinet down), which is 9p cheaper and comes in eco-friendly green packing. Go read my review on that! To be fair the Verdi one is made of authentic ingredients and delicious fresh pasta, and as a result has 20g more fat per box ~30g. But goodness me, the difference is staggering. One is a carbonra, the other is soup and noodles. Do the "pepsi" challenge and find out for yourself! Or just buy the Verdi one and skip that block of chocolate to compensate for the fat.
I do tend to keep a few ready meals in the freezer for after my night shifts, when I don't have the energy to cook, but still want to eat something more than a sandwich. I know they're not healthy and packed with salt and processed junk most of the time, but hopefully a couple a week won't hurt too much! I noticed Tesco have a deal where you can buy 5 ready meals for £4, which seemed like good value to me, so I decided to stock up! I have an Iceland just round the corner to me, and they sell a frozen tagliatelle carbonara, which is actually really gorgeous, so I was keen to try Tesco's version. The ready meal comes in a blue box, showing a picture of the meal on the front. Inside, the actual meal is contained in a black tray with a peel-off film lid. You can cook these in either the oven or the mircowave, and as the whole point of me buying this was to save time, I stuck it in the microwave. It takes a total of 11 minutes max (or a bit less depending on the strength of your microwave) and needs to be stirred halfway through. When I took the meal out of the microwave, my initial impressions were that the sauce looked thick, and almost lumpy. I gave it a quick stir which seemed to help things appearance wise, and began to eat it. The dish contains green and yellow tagliatelle, and my first impressions were that the pasta was quite soggy and sort of mushy, whereas I prefer it to be al dente. The sauce itself was quite thick, but unfortunately had virtually no flavour, which was really disappointing. There was a little hint of something there - it wasn't so bland that I couldn't eat it, yet was bland enough that I couldn't really identify any particular taste. The pieces of ham in the dish were few and far between, and they had a nice taste, but the texture seemed particularly chewy. I was surprised that when I was about half way through eating the meal, that I found a sliced mushroom. Up until this point, I hadn't even realised there were any mushrooms in it - and I found a total of three altogether by the time I'd finished, which again is quite disappointing. Nutritional Info (per pack) 455 calories 21.2g protein 67.5g carbs 11g fat 0.9g sodium The meal costs £1, or as mentioned you can buy 5 for £4, and that offer includes a wide range of other meals too. Overall, I found this very disappointing. It was still edible, but there was very little taste to it, and it's high in fat and calories too. I don't think I would buy this again, and would recommend trying Iceland's version instead!