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Taste test: Frozen cheese tortellini

Taster's Choice | Frozen cheese tortellini

One of our readers says television chef Rachael Ray has nothin' on her when it comes to putting a meal on the table fast. Her secret weapon is frozen cheese tortellini. It's a staple that can be topped with any number of sauces to make a satisfying meal. The tiny cheese-filled pasta twists can also be added to soups or stews to boost flavor and texture. We found numerous brands in local grocery stores. For this sampling, we tried only those pastas that were frozen, rather than refrigerated. All went directly from freezer to stove and were cooked in minutes. Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/

Score

(out of 100)

Market Pantry/59

Publix/52

Hannaford/51

Mona/51

How'd

it look?

Market Pantry

Petite

Publix

Delicate

Hannaford

Buttonlike

Mona

Classic

Judges'

comments

Market Pantry

Target's store brand of pasta was attractive to judges for its blandness. They liked the mild flavors that would allow a sauce to bring the best taste out of the pasta. "This is as bland as a Miley Cyrus concert before the pole dancing," one panelist said. Though the cheese was harder to taste in this pasta than some of the others, judges said it would mix well with marinara or Alfredo sauces. "It's very neutral," one said.

Publix

The folded pieces in this variety were a bit short on cheese, but long on pasta. "It's like pop culture — easily digestible," said one judge. Another said his serving looked like "a Play-Doh activity." Panelists agreed this pasta would need a light sauce for flavor, and added cheese as well. "Good comfort food," one said.

Hannaford

Sweetbay was more generous with the cheese than some of the other brands. Judges liked the thickness of the filling and the pleasing hint of garlic in the flavor. "I would definitely serve this with sauce and chicken or fish," one panelist said. "It's got a good pasta-to-cheese balance."

Mona

Shape was the biggest plus for Mona's cheese tortellini. They were pretty and not over- or under-filled. One judge detected nutmeg in the flavor. Another wasn't impressed with the flavor of any of the samples, but said he might enjoy the pasta if it he "pan-sauteed it with extra-virgin olive oil, a pat of butter, a little salt, parsley and grated cheese."

Would

they buy?

Market Pantry

Two of the four judges said yes.

Publix

Two of the four judges said yes.

Hannaford

One of the four judges said yes.

Mona

One of the four judges said yes.

Shopping

information

Market Pantry

$2.99 for a 19-ounce package from Target.

Publix

$3.49 for a 19-ounce package.

Hannaford

$2.29 for a 16-ounce bag from Sweetbay.

Mona

$5.99 for a 42-ounce bag from Publix.

Also sampled: Celentano ($1.82 for a 13-ounce bag from Walmart, 46 points); Rosetto ($3.99 for a 19-ounce bag from Publix, 39 points); and Taste of Inspirations ($2.99 for a 12-ounce bag from Sweetbay, 37 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Anu You Institute; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; and Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island. All foods were tasted blind.

One of our readers says television chef Rachael Ray has nothin' on her when it comes to putting a meal on the table fast. Her secret weapon is frozen cheese tortellini. It's a staple that can be topped with any number of sauces to make a satisfying meal. The tiny cheese-filled pasta twists can also be added to soups or stews to boost flavor and texture. We found numerous brands in local grocery stores. For this sampling, we tried only those pastas that were frozen, rather than refrigerated. All went directly from freezer to stove and were cooked in minutes.

Kathy Saunders, Times correspondent

Product/ScoreHow'd it Look?judges' commentswould they buy?shopping info
Market

Pantry/59
PetiteTarget's store brand of pasta was attractive to judges for its blandness. They liked the mild flavors that would allow a sauce to bring the best taste out of the pasta. "This is as bland as a Miley Cyrus concert before the pole dancing," one panelist said. Though the cheese was harder to taste in this pasta than some of the others, judges said it would mix well with marinara or Alfredo sauces. "It's very neutral," one said.Two of the four judges said yes.$2.99 for a

19-ounce package from Target.
Publix/52DelicateThe folded pieces in this variety were a bit short on cheese, but long on pasta. "It's like pop culture — easily digestible," said one judge. Another said his serving looked like "a Play-Doh activity." Panelists agreed this pasta would need a light sauce for flavor, and added cheese as well. "Good comfort food," one said.Two of the four judges said yes.$3.49 for a

19-ounce package.
Hannaford/51ButtonlikeSweetbay was more generous with the cheese than some of the other brands. Judges liked the thickness of the filling and the pleasing hint of garlic in the flavor. "I would definitely serve this with sauce and chicken or fish," one panelist said. "It's got a good pasta-to-cheese balance."One of the four judges said yes.$2.29 for a 16-ounce bag from

Sweetbay.
Mona/51ClassicShape was the biggest plus for Mona's cheese tortellini. They were pretty and not over- or under-filled. One judge detected nutmeg in the flavor. Another wasn't impressed with the flavor of any of the samples, but said he might enjoy the pasta if it he "pan-sauteed it with extra-virgin olive oil, a pat of butter, a little salt, parsley and grated cheese."One of the four judges said yes.$5.99 for

a 42-ounce bag from Publix.
Product/ScoreHow'd it Look?judges' commentswould they buy?shopping info
Market

Pantry/59
PetiteTarget's store brand of pasta was attractive to judges for its blandness. They liked the mild flavors that would allow a sauce to bring the best taste out of the pasta. "This is as bland as a Miley Cyrus concert before the pole dancing," one panelist said. Though the cheese was harder to taste in this pasta than some of the others, judges said it would mix well with marinara or Alfredo sauces. "It's very neutral," one said.Two of the four judges said yes.$2.99 for a

19-ounce package from Target.
Publix/52DelicateThe folded pieces in this variety were a bit short on cheese, but long on pasta. "It's like pop culture — easily digestible," said one judge. Another said his serving looked like "a Play-Doh activity." Panelists agreed this pasta would need a light sauce for flavor, and added cheese as well. "Good comfort food," one said.Two of the four judges said yes.$3.49 for a

19-ounce package.
Hannaford/51ButtonlikeSweetbay was more generous with the cheese than some of the other brands. Judges liked the thickness of the filling and the pleasing hint of garlic in the flavor. "I would definitely serve this with sauce and chicken or fish," one panelist said. "It's got a good pasta-to-cheese balance."One of the four judges said yes.$2.29 for a 16-ounce bag from

Sweetbay.
Mona/51ClassicShape was the biggest plus for Mona's cheese tortellini. They were pretty and not over- or under-filled. One judge detected nutmeg in the flavor. Another wasn't impressed with the flavor of any of the samples, but said he might enjoy the pasta if it he "pan-sauteed it with extra-virgin olive oil, a pat of butter, a little salt, parsley and grated cheese."One of the four judges said yes.$5.99 for

a 42-ounce bag from Publix.
Also Sampled: Celentano ($1.82 for a 13-ounce bag from Walmart, 46 points); Rosetto ($3.99 for a 19-ounce bag from Publix, 39 points); and Taste of Inspirations ($2.99 for a 12-ounce bag from Sweetbay, 37 points).

Panelists: Nan Jensen, registered dietitian; Jim Yockey, aesthetician at Anu You Institute; Bob Devin Jones, artistic director of Studio@620; and Jeff Jensen, public information officer for the city of Treasure Island. 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: Frozen cheese tortellini 09/07/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 8, 2010 12:36pm]

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