Friday 15 February 2013

Review - Tesco Free From Pasta

For this review I'll be looking the three variants of Tesco Free From pasta shown below, penne, fusilli and spaghetti. All three are available from most Tesco stores and come in 500 g packs, which is the usual weight for dried pasta.

Firstly lets consider the pricing, at the time of writing all three packs cost £1.40 each which when put in perspective is actually very reasonable, here are some prices of 'normal' pasta for comparison:

Tesco fusilli / penne / spaghetti 500 g (standard range):   £0.85

Napolina fusilli / penne / spaghetti 500 g:   £1.30

Other branded fusilli / penne / spaghetti 500 g:   £1.30 - £2.09

Other branded fusilli / penne / spaghetti 500 g:   £1.30 - £2.09

So as you can see from the figures above although they are significantly more expensive than the standard Tesco pasta varieties they are priced very much at the lower end of standard branded pasta, which I think makes the pricing very reasonable.

Now lets move on to the products themselves. 

All three varieties are made with a blend of rice flour and maize flour, which is a common blend for gluten free pasta, though one notable difference is that the colour of this pasta is fairly 'normal' rather than having more of an orange colour like many other gluten free brands.

Cooking times are slightly shorter than 'normal' pasta but only very slightly, meaning that if your cooking a family meal you can cook both 'normal' and gluten-free pasta at the same time and not have to worry about different cooking times.

We found that both the penne and fusilli were very good quality and once a sauce is added they are almost indistinguishable from 'normal' pasta taste wise, they do have a slightly different texture but the difference is small enough that it doesn't take long to forget about it completely, in fact many people may not even notice. You do need to be careful not to over cook them by more than a couple of minutes though as they go extremely soft and start to fall apart. The fusilli also lends itself very well to pasta bakes where it is oven cooked from raw, it cooks evenly and takes up the flavours of the sauce as well as 'normal' pasta. One final point worth mentioning is that a little salt in the water is essential to stop the pasta sticking together whilst boiling!

The spaghetti is a little different, whilst it is also very good taste and texture wise we have found it all but impossible to cook it without it clumping together to some extent. Like the other two varieties a little salt is essential, otherwise you will end up with it all sticking together, but unlike the other two great care needs to be taken to prevent clumping even with salt added. We haven't been able to stop it clumping completely but we find that breaking the spaghetti in half and stirring the pan every 20 seconds or so during cooking minimizes it, not an ideal solution but from what we have experienced it is a common problem with gluten free spaghetti in general.

Our conclusion...

All three pastas are good value for money. The penne and fusilli are perfectly good alternatives for people on a gluten-free diet and can be used for anything you would use their 'normal' versions for. The spaghetti on the other hand is comparatively difficult to work with and whilst it tastes good you will have a difficult time preventing it from clumping together whilst cooking, a problem that seems to plague every gluten-free spaghetti we have tried.

Tesco Free From Penne 500 g              9/10
Tesco Free From Fusilli 500 g             9/10
Tesco Free From Spaghetti 500 g       7/10

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