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Dolmio, the company with the cute TV adverts for their oh-so traditional Italian sauces, produce many different sauces that can be found littered all over the supermarket shelves. I bought this 'Taste of Summer' stir-in the other day when I knew I was going out in the evening and wouldn't have a lot of time to cook. It seemed like the ideal solution, cook some pasta, throw sauce in pasta, eat pasta and leave. Classy huh?
A little clear plastic tub with a foil lid holds150g of sauce and has a card sleeve surrounding it. Considering the card sleeve is so small there's a lot of info crammed on it, possibly too much, I actually had a hard time find the instructions I needed for what to do with the sauce. Finally found them on one of the side panels in tiny writing, "just stir one pot of sauce into 300g of hot freshly cooked pasta". Alongside that is the ingredient list, nutritional info, feedback address and contact numbers, barcode, weight, best before date and a product description in tiny writing; "a delicately tempting sauce with tomatoes, sweet onion and Italian chillies".
What's In It?
Surprisingly, no nasties. The list of ingredients reads like a list from anybody's kitchen store cupboard and contains no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.
Main ingredients are, tomatoes (56%), tomato puree (14%), grilled sweet onion (10%), oils, chives, (more) onion, garlic paste, chilli paste, (more) garlic and spices.
A 75g portion (half a tub) contains:
83 calories (4% GDA)
4.4g sugar (5% GDA)
5.1g fat (7% GDA)
0.7g saturates (3% GDA)
0.9g salt (15% GDA)
Suitable for vegetarians, but no allergy advice given on the packaging.
My Experience and Verdict
After eventually finding the cooking instructions, I put a pan of pasta on to boil. Now, I never measure my pasta I just know how much I use for two people, and I wasn't about to start weighing it once it was cooked. (Anybody know how much 300g of cooked pasta would weigh when dry, before cooking?)
On opening the tub of sauce my first impression was that it looked very oily, you know like when you order a takeaway curry and the oil has separated and floated to the top... well not quite that bad but there was a definite oily look to it. The colour was deep red with bits of onion visible. No overpowering smell, just tomato-y really.
When my pasta was cooked I drained it and put it back into the pan and just stirred the tub of sauce in - couldn't be simpler. I had obviously cooked too much pasta because although the sauce coated all the pasta there was no 'extra' sauce sloshing around, it was almost as if the pasta had been painted orange. There were pieces of onion clinging on along with small dark 'bits', and on re-examination of the ingredients I guess these were the chives and parsley.
And so to the taste...well the overpowering flavour was the chilli. Crikey it took me by surprise, I really wasn't expecting such a kick. It really is quite spicy so be warned if you're not keen on hot food. Unfortunately because of the chilli taste I couldn't really pick out any other flavours until much later when I could then detect the garlic aftertaste in my mouth. After finishing my bowl of rather dry pasta I was left with a tingly tongue and, quite horribly, rather greasy lips. Sorry, I know that sounds gross, but it turns out that my initial impression of oily-ness was quite accurate.
I have a confession to make; I actually bought this particular flavour stir-in sauce by accident. I saw the words tomato and sweet onion and thought it sounded rather nice. I completely missed the word 'spicy' and picture of the chilli on the packaging, but on reflection I think that that possibly says more about me than about any fault with Dolmio's packaging design!
Overall I think the concept of these stir-in sauces is good, at around £1.50 a tub from all major supermarkets they're a good stand-by, something to keep in the cupboard for those times when you don't have time to cook a fancy meal - or can't be bothered! There are about 10 different flavours available but I didn't really enjoy this one, mainly because it was too spicy for my taste. The fact that the finished dish seemed quite dry was probably my fault, I think I added the sauce to more paste than they recommend, however, there's not a huge amount of sauce in the tub so my guess is that was always going to be a coating for the pasta rather than a 'sauce'.
I probably would give one of the other flavours a try, (ensuring that I read the packet properly first) but I think in general I'll stick to making my own pasta sauce in future.