Yes, I know, it's another write up of packaged ready meals but, let's face it, I can't do interesting stuff all the time.
And so, we begin this pre-packaged culinary tryptich with:
Tuna Pasta Bake
Described by its packaging as "Flakes of tuna with Italian pasta shells in a rich tomato sauce, topped with a creamy cheese sauce and Cheddar", this product actually manages to deliver on most of its promise. The traditional mistake with this kind of product is there's either too much pasta, too much tomato sauce, too little tuna, or any combination of the three. I must admit that, at first glance, Asda's Meal for One seemed to fall into the 'too little tuna' category but, upon serving, a whole layer of tuna at the bottom was revealed. Impressive though that may be, both the cheese sauce and the Cheddar were somewhat overpowered by the tomato sauce which also seemed a little thin.
Still, overall, it's a tasty, reasonably quick meal of a decent size... And it's just possible that it needed a few minutes longer, though I did follow the cooking instructions (25 minutes at 190degrees in a fan-assisted oven), and it certainly didn't seem underdone.
Tomato & Mozzarella Pasta Bake
What is it with me and pasta bakes anyway?
Here we have "Italian penne in a chunky tomato and basil sauce, topped with Mozzarella and mature Cheddar".
What is it with pasta bakes and tomato anyway?
Seriously, though, this is another pretty decent contender from Asda's range. Far simpler than the tuna bake, being essentially just the pasta and tomato components of the dish above. Obviously, though, while the previous entry features tomato sauce, this proffers chunky tomato and basil. The sauce certainly has more texture and flavour but the cheese still disappoints - both in terms of quantity and flavour, this Mozzarella and supposedly mature Cheddar is almost entirely overwhelmed, being a fairly sparse layer over the top of the product. It's not bad, however, and would probably be excellent as an accompaniment to either meat or additional vegetables.
Sausage & Mash
Finally, in this batch, Asda serves us "2 succulent seasoned pork sausages in a rich onion gravy, served with buttery Maris Piper mashed potato". Now, I'm a big fan of sausage and mash, and this isn't my first S&M rodeo...
...perhaps I should rephrase that...
In the main, I find one can't go too far wrong with any ready-made sausage and mash in just about any kind of gravy, but I do find that onion gravy - preferably with large chunks of onion - tends to be the best. Probably the worst I've had (from a supermarket I shall tactfully neglect to name here) had rather too high a gristle content in its sausages, but I'm pleased to report that Asda's Meal for One is good and meaty. I would, however, point out that the packaging is emblazoned with an 'Improved Recipe' lozenge, and yet I tasted nothing particularly special about the seasoned pork sausages (not even wholly convinced that they were seasoned, despite the claims of black pepper, ginger, coriander, sage and parsley in the ingredients), and the mash was nothing more than yer basic buttery mashed potato. Assuming, then, that the improvements were to the onion gravy, I would say there's something to be proud of. It's certainly rich, and there's plenty of the onion's natural flavour still present.
So, there you go... Three pretty darned good meals, though none really outstanding in any way. It's worth noting that not all of these Meals for One are freezer-friendly, so it's necessary to check the packaging, and store and use them appropriately. Those that can be frozen must be fully thawed before cooking, because the instructions are for cooking from chilled. One could guesstimate an adjusted cooking time, but it probably wouldn't be wise. Even the Microwave instructions, for those who can't wait the 20-30 minutes of oven cooking time, are from chilled. Possibly not the most convenient of convenience foods, but they'll certainly be returning to my personal menu.