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Just when we think we've exhausted our options from Lean Cuisine (after all, we've reviewed over 50 of them), they come out with a new meal. More and more of their offerings are within our ~650 milligrams of sodium upper limit, which is to their credit. It would appear that they are making use of potassium chloride as a salt substitute: in addition to salt (sodium chloride), it appears in both meals' ingredient lists.
Today we started with the Herb Roasted Chicken and discovered another way Lean Cuisine is changing their meals. Instead of the 3-5 minute cooking time we've been used to, the cooking time has doubled and the consumer is directed to cook these at 50% power. Yes, both meals take 8 to 9 minutes to cook, with an additional 1-2 minutes to sit before eating. I have to admit that this is a good idea - a longer cooking time at a lower intensity is less likely to dry out any meats in the meal (something that's been a problem with microwaved meals in the past).
Unfortunately, that can really do a number on the vegetables. The Herb Roasted Chicken comes with what is labeled as "roasted potatoes" but are in effect steamed potatoes - and over steamed at that. Both the potatoes and the brocolli included in this dish are overcooked to mush. The chicken, however, is well cooked and almost juicy, but it's covered with a gravy that "smells an awful lot like the gravy you got at the holidays at your least favorite cousin's house" (according to one taster). It actually put us in mind of nothing so much as cafeteria food.
This meal is only 170 calories but boasts 500 milligrams of sodium despite the addition of potassium chloride as a salt substitute. So much potassium chloride that the meal has a strongly metallic aftertaste. Leave this on on the shelf.
The Chicken with Lasagna Rollatini, at least on paper, should be better by far than the Herb Roasted Chicken. It's 290 calories with 560 milligrams of sodium, so at least the sodium-to-calorie ratio is somewhat closer to reasonable. We hadn't looked closely at the picture on the package, however. The chicken in this dish is two thin (about 6 milligrams thick) slices of chicken layered with nearly the equivalent thickness of bread crumbs. The breading is mushy and flavorless and the chicken rubbery.
Surely the pasta had to be better, and in truth, it was. The lasagna noodles are overdone but not to the point of mushiness, but the sauce has a bright tomato flavor enhanced by the chunks of tomato. There's a fair amount of ricotta cheese layered between the noodles - not too much; just enough to punch through the tomato sauce. On its own this wouldn't be too bad, but paired with the chicken it just can't bring the dish into acceptability. Two thumbs down for Lean Cuisine.
Reviewed: July 5, 2013