Shelf Life. Your Ultimate Food Court Is Now In Session. Your Ultimate Food Court Is Now In Session.

Frozen Vegetable Lasagna

By amy • • Apr 5th, 2014 • Category: Columns, Frozen Foods, Fruits And Vegetables, Pasta, Grains, Beans, Prepared Foods

Frozen vegetable lasagna: what could go wrong?

In a logical world, things would work out perfectly well. In fact, things would work out very much like your average selection of frozen pizza, the quality of which ranges from dire to so-so to surprisingly gratifying.

In theory, frozen lasagna should tell the same broad story. Granted, frozen pasta may present more of a challenge than frozen pizza base, but the cheese and the vegetables and the general concept remains the same, as well as the uncannily proficient technology that can flash-freeze all of the above at peak performance. Logically, Someone Out There is capable of offering us a satisfying hot mess for dinner.

Instead, what Shelf Life experienced was a sort of veggie pasta portal into another world – a topsy-turvy serving tray in which ‘vegetables’ can mean a few kidney beans and someone thought it was a good idea to insert absolutely nothing between layers of ‘pasta’. Even the enjoyable products weren’t problem-free. We like you, President’s Choice, we really like you, but – corn niblets? Is that polite?

Separating the cheese from the cheesiness were this week’s expert judges: author, commentator, and all-around culinary legend Elizabeth Baird; restaurateur Nanci Giovinazzo, currently at Food Forward Consulting; and author, broadcaster, and food stylist Johanna Weinstein, all in Toronto. Space limitations prevent us from evaluating every product in a given category; entries reflect the luck of the draw. Items are blind taste tested and awarded between zero and five stars.


Brand One

Amy’s
Vegetable Lasagna

269g, $4.99
widely available
for more information visit amys.com

Elizabeth : This is a single serving size. It looks odd – it seems to have spaghetti on top, and the tomato doesn’t go very deep. There’s no real sense of sauce here. Brand One isn’t robust – it’s all promise and no backup.
TWO STARS**

Nanci : There’s nothing in the aroma that says ‘Italian’ – and the same with everything else. Brand One seems to have been processed twice – as if all the ingredients came out of a can to begin with, and then they were stuck in a box.
ONE AND A HALF STARS*1/2

Johnanna : There are little bits of spinach that taste artificial, and there seems to be fake garlic in there. I found a broccoli stalk. The whole thing is very bland, and it doesn’t look like the ‘cheese’ melted.
ONE STAR*

Brand One Total FOUR AND A HALF STARS ****1/2


Brand Two

Roman
Vegetable Lasagna

1.02kg, $6.99
widely available

Elizabeth : Brand Two is strictly for the frat house. Lots of tomato, soft texture, a few tiny bits of spinach. I poked through the layers of pasta and there’s nothing there. And … are those kidney beans?
ONE STAR*

Nanci : So the idea was to come up with an Italian style vegetable pasta dish and they give us … kidney beans? And it’s gummy. Also, it tastes terrible.
ZERO STARS

Johanna : The beans thing is strange, like they’re thinking: Mexican lasagna. Brand Two has no cheese. It tastes like moon food. It’s Armageddon in a foil container!
ZERO STARS

Brand Two Total ONE STAR *



Brand Three

Longo’s
Vegetable Lasagna

1kg, $7.99
available at Longo’s stores in Ontario
for more information visit longos.com

Elizabeth : This is béchamel-style, and I like it better than the tomato versions. Brand Two is creamy and mild and nicely oozy, with a golden crust on top. You could improve it by adding your own parmesan. This is the kind of thing you could pull out of the freezer when you get home, or serve to the babysitter.
FOUR STARS****

Nanci : Very nice crust, but the pasta is on the soft side, the whole thing is a bit mushy and pureed. To me Brand Three is more like a mac and cheese dish, which is okay, but not what I would expect.
THREE AND A HALF STARS***1/2

Johanna : It’s comfort food! I like the crusty corners, which are tasty, but the noodles are really soft. The vegetables are mainly spinach and broccoli. I agree with Elizabeth’s suggestion – Brand Three would work better with a side dish of crunchy vegetables.
THREE AND A HALF STARS***1/2

Brand Three Total ELEVEN STARS ***********




Brand Four

President’s Choice
Vegetable Lasagna

1.13kg, $5.99 sale price
available at Loblaws stores and wherever President’s Choice brand is sold
for more information visit loblaws.ca

Elizabeth : Again, a white sauce rather than the tomato. Lots of carrots and corn in Brand Four. The crunchy cheddar top is a tasty contrast to the sauce inside. This product feels fresher than the others.
FOUR AND A HALF STARS****1/2

Nanci: The cheddar is throwing me off because I don’t associate it with lasagna. But I don’t mind Brand Four. The broccoli and the cauliflower have a nice texture and there’s plenty of both.
THREE AND A HALF STARS ***1/2

Johanna : Busted – I’m pretty sure Brand Four is PC. The giveaway is the cheddar on top, and the corn niblets. There’s a very of high ratio vegetables compared to the other brands. I like the crunchy crumbs on top.
FOUR STARS****

Brand Four Total: TWELVE STARS ************


Results: President’s Choice won the somewhat compromised honours (see below), with Longo’s in second place. Amy and Roman deserved each other.

Off The Menu: Note to President’s Choice: we’re friends, right? Honestly … we think you have corn niblet issues. Shelf Life finds bits of corn in the most unlikely PC products, and we feel that we can’t buy any more, say, frozen crab cakes if you persist with your niblet habit. Don’t get us wrong – we feel the urge to sprinkle squishy, flavour-free little yellow teeth over everything as much as the next person, but we can’t let the corn define us.

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