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Saturday 26 January 2013

Sainsbury's 'Italian': Spinach & Ricotta Tortelloni and Tomato & Basil Sauce

Normally, I tend to avoid pasta dishes that aren't basically ready-meals because they always seem like such a waste of effort to make, since the timings tend to be so delicate that each component has to be dealt with separately yet simultaneously. Such concerns tend to become less important when (a) I just really fancy some pasta and (b) such products are on special offer.

Just to keep things simple, rather than use two different saucepans and deal with the resultant extra washing up, I decided to take advantage of the microwave option for the sauce. This turned out to be quite a worrying option, because the microwave started to sound as though it was possessed - thumping and groaning for no obvious reason (the hissing could be explained - lots of steam came out of the tub) - and, predictably, the sauce did start to spit out all over the interior. Still, it was easy enough getting it heated up - requiring only a bit of stirring halfway through - and my microwave didn't explode, so I'd call that a win, overall.

The tortelloni was of the 'fresh' variety, which is to say it wasn't completely dried out or frozen, so that was equally quick to prepare - a saucepan of water (plus salt and, strangely, olive oil, as recommended by instructions) brought to the boil before adding the pasta, then just stirred around as it simmers for less than five minutes. Then it just needed to be drained, dumped out onto a plate, and then slathered in the sauce.

I had a feeling when I bought these two that the sauce was something of a mismatch to the pasta, and that could well be the case. It didn't completely overpower the pasta, but it was very strong and sweet compared to the more subtle flavour of the spinach and ricotta filling. I suspect something lighter, possibly cheesier, might have been more appropriate, but the tomato and basil sauce was the only one available on the shelves at the time.

Another drawback to the sauce was that it was quite oily - it had a very visible sheen in the pot. Sure enough, just like the Lentil & Bean soup I wrote up recently, olive oil is listed as an ingredient. With this one, however, it's third on the list, and there's no percentage shown to give some idea of how much is in there. I'd guesstimate that it's a significantly higher proportion for one main reason: the soup didn't set off my stomach acid afterward... this sauce did. A lot.

Still, it's not bad, just something I need to be a bit more cautious about next time... I used the whole 300g pack of tortelloni and about three quarters of the 350g tub of sauce and, to be honest, that was probably a bit much. A bit more of the former, and the whole of the latter could have made two portions though, bizarrely, the pack states that 300g is pasta "for 2", so I can only presume it's supposed to be served with more than just a sauce.

On that note, it's worth pointing out that the packaging offers no 'serving suggestions' - no recommendation is made for a sauce or anything else to accompany the pasta, and the photo on the main label simply depicts the main ingredients. Unless you know your pasta dishes, this is liable to leave you as puzzled as I was.

Of course, it's just possible that I should have searched the internet before lumping these two products together, since it was only my assumption - based on the in-store special offer - that led me to conclude they could/should go together.

Ah, well... You live and learn, eh?


  1. Olive oil in pasta water is *meant* to stop the pasta sticking - I found this out in (my first) first year at university while in the kitchen as a friend was cooking that most fundamental of student staples. However, a cursory Google reveals this to be a myth, though there's a couple of people suggesting it might be effective as an anti-foaming agent.

    Am I allowed to say "Myth BUSTED!" if all I did was click a couple of links?

    1. Aha, thanks for that, Courtney! Based on my own experience with this, I'd say it's fairly good as an anti-foaming agent - that is to say, what little foam there was seemed to collect under 'islands' of oil on the surface, so it wasn't so widespread and didn't cling to the pasta as it was drained.

      So that's one "Myth BUSTED!" and one "Myth CONFIRMED!" ;)

      I wonder if I should try that trick next time I do spaghetti..?