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Dr. Gourmet's Food Reviews

Caesar's Kitchen and Red's All Natural

Spicy Chicken Meatball Spaccatelli Pasta and Riced Cauliflower White Meat Teriyaki Chicken

Spicy Chicken Meatball Spaccatelli Pasta from Caesar's Kitchen

the Dr. Gourmet tasting panel reviews the Spicy Chicken Meatball Spaccatell Pasta from Caesar's Kitchen

Late last year we discovered that Caesar's Pasta Specialties had changed their name to Caesar's Kitchen. At the time I thought that a simple name change was the extent of the change, but they have also added non-gluten-free meals to their repertoire, where previously they had been all gluten-free pasta meals.

Fair enough: now some of their meals are marketed under the "Caesar's Kitchen" brand (NOT gluten-free) and others under "Gluten Free Gourmet."

Today's product is a Caesar's Kitchen, Spicy Chicken Meatball Spaccatelli Pasta, with 400 calories, 460 milligrams of sodium, and 4 grams of fiber.

the Dr. Gourmet tasting panel reviews the Spicy Chicken Meatball Spaccatell Pasta from Caesar's Kitchen, after cooking

Our new microwave is not nearly as powerful as our old one - it's less than 1000 watts, so we felt safe cooking using the 1100-watt guidelines. Sadly, that meant the pasta sauce was cooked down to dryness, so "the sauce it not very saucy," as a panelist observed.

The pasta suffers from the same fate, being cooked to al dente and then made dry and chewy from lack of moisture.

The pasta sauce itself has a fine, sweet and tart roasted tomato flavor with "a little back-of-the-tongue zing" from the chilis.

The meatballs are what really make this dish. There are only four meatballs - all the size of quarters - but every one is juicy and has fantastic chicken flavor. They're not overly smooth but have a nice bit of meaty texture, and someone added enough ground black pepper to spice the meatballs up nicely. Cook this dish with care and enjoy!

Riced Cauliflower White Meat Teriyaki Chicken from Red's All Natural

the Dr. Gourmet tasting panel reviews Riced Cauliflower Chicken Teriyaki Bowl from Red's All Natural

I am aware that high protein diets like keto and Atkins are all the rage, so I've seen frozen food companies try to compete by offering substitute products: most notably riced cauliflower or other riced vegetable in place of rice or other carbohydrate-heavy ingredients.

Today is the first time I have actually eaten any of these products that use cauliflower in place of rice. And I am not impressed.

Riced Cauliflower White Meat Teriyaki Chicken after cooking

Red's All Natural seems to be going the way of evol Foods: abandoning their core product line of burritos in favor of... other foods. I found it disturbing to read the packaging for the Riced Cauliflower White Meat Teriyaki Chicken to find that the marketing blurb on the back of the package is the same as that on the back of their burritos: it talks about how the founder's wife made great burritos and the founder decided to create a burrito company, naming it after their dog, Red. (Does the founder's wife not have a name?)

"They talk as if all they make are burritos, but there it is, written on the back of a food that is not a burrito," noted a panelist.

We had thought that perhaps riced cauliflower might be a fair substitute for rice - after all, people seem to think that it's OK?

Let's address the Teriyaki Chicken side of things first. The few tiny scattered bits of broccoli florets are crunchy enough, and the diced bell peppers add fine little punches of sweetness, yet the meal has only the lightest scent of teriyaki, and the flavor seems like an afterthought. The diced pieces of chicken are savory and tender, but they're mushy.

What really seals the negative deal on this dish is the cauliflower, which has the texture of "old fried rice": the 'rice' is crunchy as if it had been left to dry out for too long. The panel agreed that as least as far as this dish goes, "Why would you even eat this?"

Almost tasteless, mushy where it should have texture and flavor, crunchy where it should be smoother? Just no. Stick to burritos, Red's.

Review posted: July 26, 2019