Review: Smart Ones Three Cheese Ziti Marinara

May 14, 2010

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Purchased at: Kroger
Price: $1.89
According to the box… Now with more cheese! Ziti pasta in a delicious marinara sauce topped with mozzarella, monterey jack and Parmesan cheeses.

While I was on my way home from work yesterday afternoon, I was craving something covered in hot, melty cheese. Of course, my first instinct was to head to the nearest Taco Bell and get a nacho cheese chalupa or any of their various menu items covered in their delicious fake cheese sauce. Instead, I decided to be healthy and go for the frozen baked ziti I had in my freezer at home. I’m going to be honest. I wasn’t expecting this to be a good substitute, but I was pleasantly surprised.

I HATE Lean Cuisine with a passion. Their chicken is always a weird texture and their pastas always end up gummy/mushy. However, somehow Smart Ones manages to do low-cal, microwavable entrees pretty well. This one was no exception.

The pasta cooked up perfectly. Of course it was a little softer than I would have preferred, but for a microwavable pasta dish, I can’t complain. It held its shape and was al dente enough to hold a respectable amount of the marinara sauce and cheese. The sauce is probably my least favorite part of the dish. It’s your typical boxed/frozen meal marinara sauce, meaning it’s a little sweeter than I prefer. There also aren’t enough spices (mainly, garlic). It’s inoffensive. On the other hand, because it’s not very bold, it doesn’t get in the way of the real star of this dish: the cheese.

The box boasts three different kinds of cheese, but I only tasted two: the Parmesan and mozzarella. Parm and mozzarella happen to be my two favorite cheeses (aside from nacho), so I’m okay with that. The cheese melts surprisingly well – it’s creamy and gooey and stringy all at the same time. And it mixes in with the marinara to form a creamier, cheesier tomato sauce. It’s awesome. I wasn’t expecting this little frozen pasta dish to take care of my craving, but it definitely did.
Well done, Smart Ones.



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