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Taste Test: Cheese ravioli

With the holiday decorations down and the leftovers cleared out of the refrigerator, warm Italian comfort food might be just the right dinner. Taster's Choice judges found seven brands of cheese ravioli in grocery store refrigerators and freezers. Some were good enough to stand alone with a tasty sauce. Others would be great starters for an Italian casserole or side dish.

Kathy Saunders, Times Correspondent
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Product/score (out of 100) Buitoni/ 84 Primo Gusto/53 Rosetto/ 51
How'd it look? Like Mamma Mia! — ''Bring on the bread sticks!" said one judge. The ravioli was fresh and cut into little squares with pinking-shear edges. Round and full like flying saucer pillows. Large squares with fluted edges.
Judges' comments "The cheese filling has a deep cheese flavor," said one judge who liked the soft texture of the pasta. "Real Parmesan tasting," said another. Panelists said this winner looked and tasted like homemade ravioli. "Perfecto — Now that's Italian!" said one judge who said the nonpressed edges kept the pasta from getting too chewy. These are cheesy and gooey with a nice bite, said one judge. This brand had a strong Parmesan fragrance and taste, along with a touch of mozzarella. The filling was very moist and flecked with herbs. The ratio of filling to pasta was the best in the GFS brand. "It's not too thick, which means the filling is really showcased," said one panelist. These pasta squares were firmer than the others but not as flavorful. Judges figured they would work best in a heavy sauce or doctored up with lots of herbs. A couple of panelists thought the pasta was a bit heavy on the garlic taste.
Would they buy? All five judges said yes. Three of the five judges said yes. Two of the five judges said yes.
Shopping information Widely available. $3.59 for a 9-ounce package at Publix. $10.49 for a 2-pound bag at GFS (Gordon Food Service) Marketplace. Widely available. $3.50 for a 25-ounce bag from Publix.
Also sampled: Publix ($3.79 for a 25-ounce bag, 46 points); Celentano ($2.99 for a 13-ounce bag from Publix, 42 points); Great Value ($2.27 for a 25-ounce bag from Wal-Mart, 46 points); and Hannaford ($3.79 for 25 ounces from Sweetbay, 47 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Anu You Institute; Laura Reiley, Times food critic; and consumer/foodie John Hehn, owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc. All foods were tasted blind.

Send suggestions for product testing to: Taste section, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731 or e-mail them to jkeeler@sptimes.com. Please put TEST SUGGESTION in the subject line. To read past Taster's Choice columns, go to food.tampabay.com.

Taste Test: Cheese ravioli 01/06/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 3, 2010 9:18am]

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