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I'm rather pleased to see Whole Foods going into the frozen single-serving meals business: after all, they pride themselves on the quality and healthfulness of their products. We've reviewed Whole Foods' single-serving pizzas and both received good marks, so our tasting panel was glad to try the two pasta dishes I discovered the other day.
We started with their Beef Lasagna. This is not a lasagna with a whole lot of sauce - rather, this is a very beefy lasagna. In fact, after whole wheat flour and water (the ingredients for the whole wheat pasta), organic beef is the third ingredient. Since ingredients are required to be listed in order from largest amount to smallest, that should tell you just how beefy this product is. While there's not a ton of sauce, the tomato sauce has a smoky, savory flavor that complements the subtly-spiced beef and holds the lasagna layers together nicely. The thick, whole wheat pasta stands up to cooking nicely and has a good bite. The only drawback I can see here is that there's so much beef that the product is almost, but not quite, a little dry. What's particularly impressive about this meal are the numbers: 480 calories, 410 milligrams of sodium and a whopping 13 grams of fiber. Overall, a good showing for Whole Foods and one that the tasting panel hoped would be an indication of good things to come.
Unfortunately, that was not to be. The Vegan Lasagna, while having more of a traditional amount of sauce and the same fine pasta, lost out in terms of flavor. The tomato sauce has a faint metallic tang, while the ricotta cheese (made from tofu, according to the ingredients list), tastes like.... plain tofu. While plain tofu is not bad-tasting, it does take some getting used to for some, and the bad news is that there are plenty of tofu-based cheeses that don't taste like tofu. I don't know why Whole Foods couldn't find some. There are a few chunks of broccoli stems tossed on the top of the lasagna, but not enough to save this product. Too bad! The numbers might be good, with 440 calories, 280 milligrams of sodium and 14 grams of fiber, this falls under the "We eat it, so you don't have to" mandate of The Dr. Gourmet Food Reviews panel. Leave the Vegan Lasagna on the shelf.
Reviewed: March 30, 2012