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Sauces n' Love is the pesto sauce victor

Pesto sauce made from the recipes of several Italian villages was a favorite of the Taster's Choice panelists. The delicious sauce was manufactured by a company called Sauces n' Love and purchased at a local Sam's Club. However, when we called to verify the price, several store workers said the chain no longer carries the product. Disappointed, we visited the same Sam's Club the next day and found loads of the pesto in the refrigerator. It was worth the trip, according to our panelists. We tried that sauce and the other pestos over plain pasta.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent
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Spice World ($2.99 for 6.7 ounces from Publix, 62 points); Sinatra's Pesto Sauce ($5.19 for 15 ounces from Mazzaro's Italian Market, 49 points); Basil Pesto Sauce ($4.79 for 8 ounces from Mazzaro's, 39 points); GFS Marketplace ($8.99 for 32 ounces from Gordon Food Service, 40 points); Christopher Ranch ($4.99 for 8 ounces from Albertsons, 37 points); Alessi ($3.39 for 3.5 ounces from Sweetbay, 52 points); and Organic Bella Terra ($4.49 for 3 ounces from Sweetbay, 44 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian with Pinellas County Cooperative Extension; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; John Hehn, foodie and owner of All Brite Lighting & Power Design Inc.; and Times food critic Laura Reiley. 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.
Also sampled:
Product/Score (out of 100) Sauces n' Love/78 Buitoni Pesto Basil Sauce/76 Classico/63
How'd it look? Deep, green and bold. Like a night out at a really good Italian restaurant. Light green, homemade-looking with flecks of basil. Large pieces of basil with big hunks of garlic. Good, hearty "Irish" colored.
Judges' comments Rough and rustic with whole pine nuts. "It's like I'm sitting in the kitchen of Mario Batali," said one panelist who described the sauce as great. "It's like a garden party on your tongue." Another said it was very "real looking" with a good mix of teeny basil leaves and hunks of mellow garlic.

"This has a nice basil flavor with a hint of Parmesan cheese," said one judge. "It's got lots of cheese, nuts, bountiful flavor — nice, nice Napoli," said another. "I like the rough texture and the robust, assertive flavor," said one panelist who wanted to pair the pesto with broiled salmon. Another judge described the sauce as "festive."
Would they buy? Four out of four said yes. Three out of four said yes. Three out of four said yes.
Shopping information Not widely available. $7.83 for 15.8 ounces at Sam's Club (also sold through the company's Web site at www.saucesnlove.com).

Widely available. $4.39 for 7 ounces from Publix. Widely available. $2.14 for 10 ounces from Wal-Mart.

Sauces n' Love is the pesto sauce victor 07/22/08 [Last modified: Thursday, July 24, 2008 7:53am]

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