Bertolli Mediterranean line underwhelms

Bertolli freezer meals have scored well in the past with The Spokesman-Review reader food panel.

Tasters weren’t as impressed with the new Mediterranean style line of dinners.

The meals are sold in the freezer section of most supermarkets and cook in a skillet in less than 10 minutes. We tasted the Garlic Shrimp, Penne and Cherry Tomatoes and Rosemary Chicken, Linguine and Cherry Tomatoes, which received three stars and two stars, respectively.

A three-star rating is not that bad on our five-star scale, but the list of complaints about the dish was long. Among the concerns: chewy tomatoes, undercooked pasta, overcooked vegetables and too much sauce.

But Gabe Kohler enjoyed the Garlic Shrimp, Penne and Cherry Tomatoes.

“Yum. This dish is very good. The pasta is cooked just right, and the shrimp and the tomatoes work very well with the sauce,” he said.

Skip Hubbard confined his kudos to the main ingredient. “Great tasting shrimp, but that’s about it. Tastes more like a cold pasta salad sauce than a stick-to-your-ribs dinner.”

Larry Inman gave the dish a thumbs down. “Tomato skins are annoying, one could chew forever. (It) lacks the right seasonings. Looks good but comes up short on flavor. Not an item I would purchase.”

Things just got worse from there. The Rosemary Chicken, Linguine and Cherry Tomatoes was a disappointment to most tasters.

“The appearance of this dish is very deceiving. It looks very good, but the noodles are undercooked and the dish is very boring,” Kohler said.

Andy Hoye agreed. “Sorry, this doesn’t do justice to the ingredients, and the tomato skins are tough. The sauce is a minus, and the noodles aren’t cooked through.”

Marcia Oranen said the sauce was the dish’s downfall. “I think the lemon garlic sauce is slightly overpowering … there is too much sauce and it separates from the noodles.”

Perhaps Bertolli’s Mediterranean-style dishes without cherry tomatoes would have fared better with our panel. The other varieties are Chicken, Rigatoni and Broccoli and Shrimp and Penne Primavera.

Garlic Shrimp, Penne and Cherry Tomatoes

Price: $7.69 per 1-pound, 8-ounce package, (2 servings)

Nutrition per serving: 340 calories, 11 grams fat (1 gram saturated, 29 percent fat calories), 13 grams protein, 42 grams carbohydrate, 40 milligrams cholesterol, 42 grams dietary fiber, 740 milligrams sodium.

Taste: “ “ “

Value: “ “

Comments: “Too saucy. (It) tastes like a frozen dinner. Shrimp are tough and overcooked.” – Marcia Oranen

“Too many mushy tomatoes. The shrimp is good, but the pasta is not cooked through. Another pasta TV dinner. (It is) not good.” – Nancy Robinson

“Uninspiring, tough noodles, not great.” – Andy Hoye

Rosemary Chicken, Linguine and Cherry Tomatoes

Price: $7.69 per 1-pound, 8-ounce package (2 servings)

Nutrition per serving: 380 calories, 14 grams fat (2.5 grams saturated, 33 percent fat calories), 19 grams protein, 38 grams carbohydrate, 60 milligrams cholesterol, 4 grams dietary fiber, 780 milligrams sodium.

Taste: “ “

Value: “ “

Comments: “I would not buy it.” – Marilyn Moore

“Looks good, but tastes bland.” – Nancy Robinson

“Pasta is too firm, vegetables too soft (and skins chewy). Not seasoned well, I wouldn’t buy this.” – Larry Inman


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