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Saffron Road has a good track record with here at Dr. Gourmet. Their two varieties of chicken nuggets are good, made with real breast meat, and their Tandoori style is not too spicy - great for kids who might be more adventuresome in the flavor department. Their meats are all humanely raised, antibiotic free, and fed a vegetarian diet, which might be why their lamb dishes are generally good, although their Lamb Vindaloo was a bit heavy on the salt.
I'd sort of mentally pigeonholed them into the "Ethnic Food" category, but they're obviously more ambitious: I was pleasantly surprised to see two mainstream pasta dishes on offer: Three Cheese Lasagna and Macaroni & Cheese. A quick look at the Nutrition Information revealed numbers well within our guidelines, so I took them home for our tasting panel. With Saffron Road's track record, our tasting panel was feeling pretty optimistic.
And they were not disappointed. The Three Cheese Lasagna has 210 calories per serving and 440 milligrams of sodium and 2 grams of fiber. This is a very, very cheesy lasagna with a soft, smoky tomato sauce. The flavors of the diced eggplant and zucchini come through nicely and the lasagna noodles are not too overdone. As usual, the panel agreed that whole wheat noodles would have been a better choice to add more fiber. And did I mention the cheese? There's a generous amount of cheese here - cheese lovers will love this dish. I would have liked to see more vegetables and less cheese, but it's "Three Cheese Lasagna," after all. It's certainly one of the best vegetarian lasagnas we've had.
On that positive note we moved on to the Macaroni & Cheese. Saffron Road's version uses pasta made from wheat and Jerusalem Artichoke flour. (Jerusalem Artichokes are also called Sunchokes and are tubers, somewhat similar to potatoes.) While the pasta remains al dente after microwaving - so many mac and cheese pastas turn into mush after cooking - using whole wheat flour would have yielded more fiber than the 1 gram in this dish. This is, however, a really good mac and cheese. Made with Wisconsin cheddar cheese, this has the real, slightly grainy texture and clumping you get from melting real cheese and not some overly-processed cheese-like substance. The flavor is all real cheddar cheese, as well, being not overly salty but plenty flavorful. Another stellar offering from Saffron Road.
Until one of our panelists read the back of the box. It says, "This classic dish makes the perfect side for soup or salad and we've included enough for two to share!"
Yes, both of these dishes are actually two servings per box. Shame on you, Saffron Road! Nobody is going to eat only half of these meals. The Macaroni and Cheese could be treated as one serving - half the box contains 260 calories, 260 milligrams of sodium and 1 gram of fiber, so 520 calories, 520 mg sodium and 2g fiber wouldn't be too bad if a little higher than I'd like in terms of calories, but the Three Cheese Lasagna, with a total of 420 calories in the box, has way too much sodium for one person at 880 milligrams. And the problem is that both meals are so good that most people will eat the whole thing despite their best intentions to the contrary.
We're going to give these meals thumbs up for flavor, but with a strong warning to bear in mind the misleading nutrition information. If you do choose to indulge in the Three Cheese Lasagna, go extra easy on the salt for the rest of the day.
Reviewed: March 9, 2012