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Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

Two From the New Gluten Free Café

I haven't done specific testing and there's not great research about the amount of sodium needed to have a dish taste salty. Subjectively, my informal research says that a dish has to have about 300 mg of sodium at least to taste "salty enough." Looking at the Gluten Free Café Pasta Primavera in the grocery store I was a bit skeptical. This is a new product line from the folks at Hain Celestial Group and this dish contains only 260 mg of sodium.

Pasta PrimaveraIts aroma while cooking was mostly of the veggies, especially the green beans and the peppers. The instructions call for cooking 3 minutes after piercing the plastic and then removing the plastic to stir. I was very careful stirring because rice pasta can fracture and break up. After another 3 minutes the dish looked really good. Overall the dish is just salty enough.

The flavor of the sauce is smooth and creamy and there's good, fresh tasting veggies. The noodles are predictably soft as rice noodles are but fairly good. The problem is that whole wheat noodles have such great flavor and texture and the rice noodles just can't hold up in the texture or flavor department. This dish is a good and serviceable offering at 270 calories, but not a great one.

Lemon Basil ChickenRice dishes do take more salt, but the Lemon Basil Chicken doesn't need all of the 720 mg that it has. The dish is better than the Pasta Primavera, partly by virtue of the fact that it has more sodium, but it stands on its own with an almost fresh basil and light lemon flavor. The white rice is not overcooked and not in any way gummy. The little bits of chicken are fair at best. They come out a bit tough and chewy. Like the pasta, this dish isn't too high in calories coming in at 340.

The final verdict is that the folks at Hain should even out the sodium between these two. Even so, these rate a good, and for those eating gluten free and want to have convenience foods on hand, not a bad choice.

Reviewed: May 22, 2009