Frozen almost vegetarian food for the busy almost vegetarian: Indian and Italian food

Yesterday we kicked off National Frozen Food month with a look at Amy’s Mexican frozen food.

Although the too-long ingredient lists tended to be very good, the too-bland food was not. But today we look at food from two other nationalities, both of which begin with an “I.” And both of which were more promising.

Did you figure out which nationalities we are going to look at? If you didn’t, don’t feel badly. Even though I write for a living, I am useless at Scrabble and The New York Times crossword puzzles and other word games. I just don’t think of words that way.

So let me tell you right up front. Today we are looking at Amy's food from India and Italy.

Indian vegetable korma
Yesterday we conceded that, while Amy’s ingredient lists tend to be awfully long, they tend to be packed with some great ingredients. This one is no different:
(Vegan) organic brown basmati rice, filtered water, organic onions, organic potatoes, organic peas, coconut milk, organic cauliflower, organic carrots, black urad dal*, organic tomatoes, organic green bell peppers, organic cashews, organic tomato puree, expeller pressed high oleic safflower oil, spices**, organic mung dal*, desi chickpeas, organic green lentils, organic lemon juice, organic garlic, organic raisins, sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, organic green beans, organic almonds, tumeric, organic mustard seeds, organic jalapeño peppers.

In fact, let’s once again concede that the ingredients for her foods tend to be pretty great and not waste time looking at lists. Instead, let’s focus on the food.

As I mentioned yesterday, I brought in the husband, frozen food expert that he is, to be our taste tester. He is a man of big appetite, but few words, so let’s see what insightful, in-depth, carefully considered thoughts he wished to share with us on this meal:

“Delicious and flavorful. You’d think it would be a soggy mass, but it wasn’t! This one is going on the shopping list.”

You heard it here first.

Indian paneer tikka
This meal passed muster, too, but not with as resounding a cheer as the vegetable korma meal. But now the husband is getting into it and is becoming positively verbose:

“The spinach and potato portion is tasty. The tofu part of it is ever so slightly kicky. The rice is nice, not soggy or anything, but it is a bit bland. It all smells really good and I would buy it again.”

So Amy’s Indian fared better than the Mexican meals we tried. But how about some of her Italian offerings? Well, funny you should ask.

Margherita pizza
The husband considers himself to be a pizza expert: He’s Italian (he considers pizza expertise his birthright) and he’s eaten a lot of pizzas. A lot.

So what does he say about Amy’s margherita pizza?

“Surprisingly good crust. But the topping is bland and thin.”

He said this was the second best frozen pizza he’d ever eaten. But considering he loathes all but one frozen pizza (a Greek frozen pizza we found at Trader Joe’s), this is damning with faint praise.

Baked ziti bowl
Now, my Italian husband comes from people who make their own pasta and their own sauce. So you can imagine the horrible things he had to say about this.

“It is delicious. “I would buy again, all the time, it is that tasty. The pasta is almost al dente and the sauce is yummy. The peas are kind of pointless and the cheese disappears, but it is overall good.”

Boy was I surprised.

For my part, however, I have never seen the value of frozen pasta. Boiling water and dumping in dried pasta (100% whole wheat, of course) and sauteeing tomatoes and a handful of spices and olive oil in a pan is so fast and easy that it makes frozen pasta kind of pointless.

I figure if you can’t even manage that, then it is time to just go get a pizza. But not an Amy's one.

Cheese pizza in a pocket sandwich
Speaking of pizza . . .

My husband is a big fan of Lean Pockets Pepperoni Pizza.

First, I want to tell you what he said about the Amy’s version. Then I want to leave you with two ingredient lists; the first for the Amy’s Cheese Pizza in a Pocket Sandwich and the second for the Lean Pockets Pepperoni Pizza.

And in our next, and final, post on Amy’s frozen foods, we look at cereals and burgers. What fun!

So, this is what the husband said about the cheese pizza in a pocket sandwich:

“The sauce was rich and quite delicious and way better than Lean Pockets Pepperoni Pizza. The texture was a bit doughy which wasn’t great, but not so bad. And it exploded in our microwave. But I’d buy this again. In fact, it should go on our shopping list.”

Now, here is the Cheese Pizza in a Pocket Sandwich ingredient list
Organic wheat; whole wheat flour, part-skim mozzarella cheese, organic tomato puree, filtered water, organic extra virgin olive oil, organic red onions, organic cornmeal, organic evaporated cane juice, sea salt, grade aa butter, organic honey, yeast, spices, garlic, black pepper. Contains milk and wheat.

And here is the Lean Pockets Pepperoni Pizza ingredient list
Flour Unbleached Enriched [ Wheat Flour, Barley Malted Flour, Niacin, Iron Reduced, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid], Water, Cheese Mozzarella Low-Fat [ Milk Pasteurized Part Skim, Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Milk Non-Fat, Food Starch Modified], Pepperoni [ Pork, Salt, Water, Dextrose, Spice, Oleoresin of Paprika, Garlic Dehydrated, Lactic Acid Starter Culture, Sodium Nitrate (Nitrite), BHA, BHT, Citric Acid], Tomato(es) Paste, Margarine [ Soybean(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Cottonseed Oil Liquid (and/or), Cottonseed Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Water, Soy Lecithin, Vegetable Mono and Diglycerides, Flavor Artificial, Vitamin A Palmitate, May contain : Sugar, Potassium Sorbate, Citric Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Color(s) Artificial {Beta Carotene, Annatto, Tumeric}], Contains less than 2% of Soybean(s) Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Cottonseed Oil Partially Hydrogenated, Whey Dried, Sugar, Seasonings [ Salt, Sugar, Spice, Onion(s) Dehydrated, Cheese Romano Dehydrated {Cheese Romano ,Sodium Phosphate}, Garlic Dehydrated, Parsley Flakes], Food Starch Modified, Dough Conditioner(s) [ Calcium Sulphate (Sulfate), Mono and Diglycerides, Whey, Salt, Garlic Powder, L-Cysteine Hydrochloride, Tri Calcium Phosphate, Enzymes, Ethoxylated Mono-And Diglycerides], Egg(s) Yolks Dried, Yeast, Salt, Xanthan Gum, Locust Bean Gum, Lecithin, Egg(s) Whites Dried

Hmmm, guess which one we’ll buy now and I couldn't be happier about it?

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Oh, and a nice bit of news: I've been invited to guest blog later this month (remember the wonderful post Noel wrote on homemade toddler food? Well she's the guilty party, erm, clever person who extended the invitation!). I'll give you more details as we get closer to the date. Good things, eh? Why yes!