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We don't get many opportunities to review convenience foods in the seafood category. There is good reason for this, as it is difficult to cook delicate fish in the microwave and expect it to be any good at all. The fish almost always ends up being overcooked – dry and grainy. We have, however, had success with Artisan Bistro products in the past (they were formerly known as Organic Bistro) so the choice to review two of their new "Bakes" this week was one we looked forward to (as much as anyone could look forward to tasting frozen meals, I suppose).
We started with their Wild Alaskan Salmon Bake because, as a risotto dish, it was the most likely to disappoint. The salmon is served with asparagus, basil and arborio rice. All four of these ingredients are delicate enough in a fresh recipe, but I believe next to impossible in a frozen convenience meal. We were not disappointed (in our first impression that we would be disappointed, that is). This is a terrible, terrible meal. The asparagus is soggy and bitter and the rice gummy. We could not find any discernable salmon, but there is an overly strong fishy flavor. The whole thing is scented with basil and topped with a chewy parmesan (another ingredient not made for microwaves).
I won't bother discussing the nutrition facts. Just leave this one in the freezer case.
The Wild Albacore Tuna Bake came with higher hopes. Looking at the package, we imagined a sophisticated tuna noodle casserole, and that's pretty much what you get. A base of pasta topped with tuna in a light cheese sauce and covered with peas. Unfortunately, this dish was also gummy, although the flavor was much better. It tasted like a tuna noodle casserole should, so there are points for that, but that can't save this dish.
There is a lot to like in this company. Their meals are all organic, the fish is sustainably farmed, meals are lower in sodium, and there are ingredients that anyone could recognize. Unfortunately, they just weren't able to put that great combination together for these meals.
Reviewed: January 11, 2013