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Amy's Vegetarian Lasagnas

I've given Amy's a pretty hard time about the amount of sodium in their foods, especially when their "Light in Sodium" products are so good. It just doesn't seem necessary for frozen foods to have that much salt when the company has amply demonstrated that their foods taste just as good without it.

With that in mind I chose two vegetarian lasagnas from their frozen foods line to further prove that the lower-sodium version of their foods tasted just as good - if not better - than the higher-sodium versions.

Tofu Vegetable LasagnaWe began with the higher sodium meal, Tofu Vegetable Lasagna. This is a 310-calorie meal with 6 grams of fiber and 680 milligrams of sodium. While it does contain milk protein, the cheese in this dish is actually soy cheese. In my experience soy cheese doesn't melt very well, so I admit that I did not expect a particularly cheesy flavor.

I wasn't disappointed in that regard - this lasagna is not overwhelmingly cheesy. What it does have is lots and lots of flavor. The pasta sauce has a nice garlic and red pepper flavor and the zucchini and spinach flavors are evident. The tofu is scattered throughout the dish in a small dice, but as with most tofu you don't really notice its flavor (or lack thereof). The lasagna noodles have a fair bit of body, which is surprising - all too often lasagna noodles are drowned in the sauce and become mushy. Overall a very appealing dish which for once does not seem overly salty.

Light in Sodium Vegetable LasagnaNext we turned to the Light in Sodium Vegetable Lasagna. This dish has 290 calories, 4 grams of fiber and 340 milligrams of sodium - a much more reasonable amount. I fully expected this to be the superior product, and not just because of the lower sodium. As I mentioned, soy cheese just doesn't melt very well. The Light in Sodium version is far cheesier, with real dairy-product cheeses, including ricotta, part-skim mozzarella and cottage cheese.

Superior product? Surprisingly, not so much. Unlike the Tofu Vegetable Lasagna, this dish's sauce is sweet sweet sweet. All that cheese is all very well - until it separates, making the entire dish grainy and adding so much liquid to the dish that the lasagna turns into mush. "Sweet, mushy goo," said one taster, "and where are the vegetables?" As noted, the vegetables are hard to find - it's more of a cheese lasagna than a vegetable lasagna. Cutting the lasganas in half is a study in contrasts: The Tofu Vegetable Lasagna is drier and holds together better, showing a significant amount of vegetable filling. The Light in Sodium Vegetable Lasaga slides apart in its watery cheeses.

Sometimes better numbers just don't mean better flavor. Skip the Light in Sodium Vegetable Lasagna and have the far more satisfying Tofu Vegetable Lasagna. Just go easy on the salt for the rest of the day.

Reviewed: April 30, 2010