I've a strong distrust for ready-meal style package foods. Supermarkets that sell boxes of frozen things with pictures of a whole meal on the outside are always disappointing, usually tasting of the plastic tray more than the food itself. They conjure up images of my student days and times when I was refuelling more than eating. I have a lot of time for the Giovanni Rana range. Like Jaime Oliver this guy is a chef (although actually Italian) and appears to actually care about what he puts his name on the box for. I bought this hoping that the trend would continue, but fearing that not even Giovanni could prevent this from tasting like its packaging.
I'm happy to say that this was a different experience to that which I'd expected. Firstly the meal is cooked in the foil tray and the plastic is just for freshness - take that Marks & Spencer's! As this was from the fridge (and for once I ate it on the use by date and not after) I expected it to have a little head start on the frozen boxes, but was still surprised by the contents. The box says you can even microwave this (after removal from the foil) in 5 mins, but I felt that would be disrespectful to the pasta.
The sauce wasn't cheesy, the meat was of a decent quality and the pasta was firm but not rigid. The flavours were surprisingly nice, and while it certainly wasn't restaurant grade I'd say it's the best package lasagne I've had (and being a child who liked Garfield I've had an awful lot of Lasagne). Mr Rana continues to impress - and while I prefer his little pasta parcels (and have 2 boxes in the fridge as I type) I think I'd buy this again. 20 mins in the oven gets you a good, filling, effort free meal which with a few veg on the side feels like something actually cooked and not just thrown at the plate.
Hopefully this is part of a new range of quick Italian delights which I'll begrudgingly have to chomp my way through.