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Layers Work

I love layered food. Lasagna, eggplant parmesan, tamale pie, Shepherd's Pie… We've been reviewing a number of versions of these in the last few weeks with fair success.

Amy's Garden Vegetable LasagnaThere's no shortage of such dishes in the grocery store. It's an easy item to make and reheat and the structure of the dish just lends itself to being frozen. For instance, with lasagna the noodles are broad and flat and should remain firm with freezing. There's enough moisture in the sauce and filling to keep the dish appealing when reheated and then there's cheese. Face it, melted cheese is great.

Amy's Garden Vegetable Lasagna is a pretty good offering. Right off the bat know that it's a bit salty. That's a common complaint here in the Dr. Gourmet test kitchen but we know it going in and you should too. The shame is that just a little less and there'd be a much fresher flavor than there is. Nonetheless, this is pretty good with broad flat, firm rice noodles filled with a ricotta cheese and vegetable stuffing. The stuffing is a bit grainy and that seems to come from the broccoli and not the cheese. The tomato sauce is bright and well herbed.

At 290 calories it's quite a rich meal but just a sprinkle of about a half ounce of grated mozzarella would really make this complete (it's just not quite cheesy enough). The great thing is that there's 5 grams of fiber which is a lot for frozen meals.

Cedarlane Foods Enchilada PieCompare this to our previous review of Weight Watchers Smart Ones Lasagna Florentine. This lasagna is also good, even with a slightly too sweet tomato sauce. In fact, there must be something to the layering because every review we have posted of lasagnas has been favorable.

But does the layering theory extend beyond just lasagna?

I love tamale pie and it's a perfect recipe to freeze, but there's not a lot of frozen versions on the market. Cedarlane is not a widely available brand, but they have a tamale pie (they call it "Enchilada Pie").

This is pretty good. The corn tortillas aren't soggy and have a great corn flavor. These are layered with nice firm black beans, green chilies and cheddar cheese. The texture and the flavor are good. The tomato sauce is slightly spicy with a generic Mexican flavor. At only 215 calories this is really filling and there's 3 grams of fiber. The sodium is a little high at 595 mg but the dish is not overly salty. This is a great choice to keep in the freezer at the office for lunch.