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Our tasting panel is always glad to hear that we have new products from Sweet Earth to review. They can usually (but not always) look forward to a flavorful dish to taste.
The two varieties we have to review today looked promising: the Cauliflower Mac (270 calories, 460mg sodium, 2g fiber) and Pad Thai (280 calories, 490mg sodium, 4g fiber) not only have pretty impressive numbers but are vegan.
It's been a little while since we last reviewed a product from Sweet Earth, so we were interested to note that the cooking instructions for both meals suggest that you remove the plastic cover on the individual bowls completely and microwave the dishes covered with a paper towel.
The Cauliflower Mac is a great idea: pasta with cauliflower florets and vegan cheese. The gemelli (little twists) pasta is a little past tender, but still has "good mouthfeel". The small cauliflower florets - and there could have been more of them, in our opinion - are on the softer side of crunchy.
But where this dish is... odd... is in the sauce.
Granted, this is vegan so there is no dairy in this dish. There is, however, a "Parmesan style cheese alternative," at least, according to the package. We couldn't taste anything remotely cheeselike, however. The fact is that the sauce, as much as there is, tastes mostly like mustard and garlic, with a strange flavor that reminded some of our panelists of "plain seitan" or "nutritional yeast." The whole left us with a metallic aftertaste.
One panelist summed it up best: "Maybe if you're used to eating vegan mac and cheese you would think this is good. But probably not anybody else."
With that disappointment we turned to the Pad Thai, which is also vegan. That didn't concern our panelists, however - it's easy to make great Pad Thai with the right vegan ingredients.
At least, we thought so.
Here we have rice noodles, plenty of julienned carrots, diced red bell pepper, snap peas, and tofu - all of which should mean a pretty decent pad thai dish.
The carrots and snap peas are still a little crunchy, but the tofu has been fried, so "it squeaks when you chew it" and has the texture of "old rubber bands."
The rice noodles break up when you stir the dish.
But the problem? There's no sauce.
None that we could find, anyway.
Eating this is simply eating the plain ingredients - there's not even some soy sauce to give this dish flavor. This is "nowhere near Pad Thai." We have to wonder if there was an error in packaging, that the sauce was left out.
Said a panelist, "Has anyone at Sweet Earth actually eaten Pad Thai? Like, ever?" If this is how the dish is intended to taste, it would appear not.
Review posted: December 20, 2019