One of the many commercial freeze dried meals on the market is Alpine Aire’s Pasta Roma, a vegetarian pasta based dish. The package weight is 6-ounces for $6.03 retail. As many of the meals claim, it is a two person meal. Each serving has 390 calories, 11 grams fat, 19 grams of protein, 730 mg sodium but only 3 grams fiber.
Opening the package the contents are freeze-dried twisty pasta, a few pieces of diced tomato and a lot of sauce powder. The powder reminded me a of a tomato based dry pasta sauce mix that Knorr sold until a couple years ago. Not bad, but not great smelling either.
The ingredients are:
Pasta [durum semolina (enriched with niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, and folic acid), spinach powder, paprika powder], Romano cheese powder [Romano cheese (pasteurized milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), disodium phosphate], tomato powder, Parmesan cheese powder [Parmesan cheese (skim milk, cheese cultures, salt, enzymes), buttermilk solids, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, whey, disodium phosphate, salt], potato starch, whey powder, tomato flakes, nonfat milk powder, onion granules, sea salt, garlic granules, spices.
The protein in the meal is coming from the whey mostly (cheap bulk) it seems. Now overall the ingredients are not bad – nothing artificial. No added MSG, fake flavorings or coloring added. And it is appreciated. Potato starch is used to thicken sauces, the cheese and milk powder give the sauce a pink color versus a bright red pasta sauce.
I followed the directions and added 2 1/4 cups of boiling water to the package. Using a long handled spoon I stirred it well and zipped the foil pouch up. I then left it for 15 minutes.
Coming back, after opening I stirred it back up, as the pasta was at the bottom. It has a considerable amount of sauce that needs to be mixed back in.
I tried a bite. For me it needed work – more cheese, more veggies, more spices. For having over 1400 mg sodium in the package it didn’t have much ‘oomph’ – to me, at least, salt is not the only seasoning in the cupboard 😛 It needed some Italian herbs, more garlic, lots of black pepper.
Ford ate the entire bags worth soon afterward, due to me being late in making him lunch 😛 He liked it fine….then again he is 11 and always hungry – and he thinks spaghetti/pasta should be served often.
So my thoughts? It is an OK base meal but they should call it what it is: spaghetti with red sauce. The amount of dried tomatoes is shameful (a teaspoon of them is not enough to me). Kids will like this meal as it isn’t even remotely spicy. It won’t serve 2 people, this is very much a single serving meal.
Personally, if I was to make this meal on a trip I would add in 2 Tbsp or more of diced sun dried tomatoes, 1 Tbsp of diced dried onions, 1/4 tsp diced dried garlic, a Tbsp of ‘beef’ flavored TVP. The extra sauce would rehydrate everything – and it wouldn’t so ‘saucy’. Then I’d top it liberally with an extra helping of Parmesan.
So it could be considered if you have picky eaters but otherwise bring extras along to spice it up.