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We haven't reviewed a Michael Angelo's meal since 2008, and so far none of them have gotten a thumbs down. Granted, one of their "Italian-Style Pie" offerings was less than stellar (we're talking about the Potato Gnocchi with Cheese), but the more traditional frozen food meals we've reviewed have been remarkably good.
For that reason we've kept an eye out for more, and were we pleased to find some new offerings. So new one of them isn't even on the website yet (and the other in a slightly different packaging), we were more than ready to tackle tasting these, especially given last week's terrible offerings from Lean Cuisine (the metallic Herb Roasted Chicken and the bland Chicken with Lasagna Rollatini).
These are fairly middle of the road when it comes to the numbers. The Pasta Primavera, which we tasted first, has 250 calories and a comparatively low level of sodium (for frozen food) at 440 milligrams. There's even 4 grams of fiber. The Pasta Florentine has 240 calories and a little more sodium at 530 milligrams, with only 3 grams of fiber. What's really refreshing about these meals are the short ingredient lists. The Pasta Primavera's ingredient list is as follows:
Ingredients: tomatoes (tomatoes, salt, fresh basil), pasta (durum semolina), water, onions, eggplant, red bell peppers, celery, red kidney beans (red kidney beans, water, salt), peas, squash, zucchini, olive oil, garlic, salt, spices, basil.
No salt substitutes, no preservatives or additives, just actual food ingredients. And the really amazing part is how it tastes.
After about 3 minutes in the microwave and 2 minutes standing after stirring the pasta into the sauce, this meal has a bold, savory tomato scent and a bright tomato flavor enhanced witih roasted eggplant. Minced garlic is evident throughout, as are the peas and diced zucchini and eggplant. The pasta is al dente and the whole flavor profile is well-balanced. This tastes like... real food. A simple meal of pasta with vegetables in a tomato sauce - no more, and certainly no less.
The Pasta Florentine is equally good. Unlike many frozen pasta meals with cream sauces, this is neither too thin nor too thick and gooey. It's not overly sweet, either. It's a correctly made cream sauce redolent of butter and garlic, but light enough in flavor that the vegetables can easily be tasted through it. The broccoli florets are nice and crunchy, as are the matchstick carrots. One unusual touch is that the spinach is not chopped fine but is present in nearly whole leaves, so that (surprise!) you can taste the spinach distinct from the broccoli, the carrots, and even the sauce.
We checked the Michael Angelo's website to see the nutrition information for the other meals available that we haven't yet reviewed, and I want to caution you that some of the meals are high enough in sodium that we wouldn't review them at all. So check the packages for their sodium content, but in general we can say, if it says Michael Angelo's, you're unlikely to get a bad meal. Snap these up if you run across them.