Saturday 23 March 2013

Heinz Gluten Free Pasta & Pasta Sauces – A Hit & Miss Review

I’m always on the lookout for new gluten free foods, so when Heinz got in contact to say they were about to launch a range of certified gluten free pasta and would I like a sample, I was more than happy to accept.

The new pastas are (to my knowledge) Heinz’s first contributions to the gluten free market, by which I mean specially designed gluten free products rather than their ketchup which is naturally gluten free. They have produced a range of 3 pasta varieties and 3 tomato based pasta sauces. The pastas include penne, spaghetti and macaroni and are apparently made in Italy. I received the macaroni pasta which I was delighted about. I love macaroni and until now there has not been a gluten free equivalent available in the supermarkets.

The 3 pasta sauces come in individual little tetra pack cartons, which I thought was a great idea. They are sturdy enough to take on holiday or carry around with you without being heavy or at risk of shattering like glass would be. The 3 flavours are Tomato Frito, Tomato & Oregano and Tomato & Basil and are produced in Spain to an “authentic recipe.” In my sample box I got the oregano and basil varieties.

The first thing that struck me about the pasta was its use of an unusual ingredient. Along with potato and cornflour it also contained lupin flour. I have heard of lupin, but never seen or eaten it in a product before and was curious to see what it tasted like. Apparently the pastas have been “crafted to ensure ultimate taste and a perfect bite.”

I know from experience that gluten free pasta tends to go from firm to soft and mushy very quickly. I tasted a piece of pasta after only 6 of the 8-9 minutes specified cooking time and found it already very soft, so removed it from the heat immediately. If I had left it cooking for the required time I am fairly sure it would have disintegrated. Given their “perfect bite” statement and the fact it’s been produced in Italy where they are known for their love of al-dente pasta, this surprised me.

I decided to taste some of the pasta plain, to see what the flavour was like. I’m afraid I wasn’t overly impressed. It tasted a little bitter and almost musty, which I can only attribute to the lupin flour. Not a good start. I decided not to judge too harshly at first as not many people would eat completely plain pasta and so I heated up the tomato & oregano pasta sauce and stirred it through.

The sauce smelt lovely and very fresh. I was impressed at its ingredient list too which was simple and free from any strange preservatives. It was perhaps a little smoother than I would normally choose as I like a chunkier tomato sauce, but no different to most shop bought tomato pasta sauces.

Eating both the sauce and pasta together helped mask the strange flavour from the lupin flour, but I did find the pasta sauce itself to be quite sweet. Although, there was no denying its strong tomato and oregano flavour. The herb flavour really shone through and tasted lovely and fresh. However, I’m still not entirely sure I liked the pasta, as the slightly strange flavour still lingered in the background.

I didn’t use the whole pack of my sauce when I made my pasta and used the rest of as the tomato base for a homemade pizza, which worked really well. Later on I tried the tomato and basil sauce and was again impressed with its fresh flavours.

I would certainly recommend and buy the pasta sauces again and at only £0.89 each they are very affordable. The pasta I’m afraid to say probably won’t be making another appearance in my shopping basket. This is a shame as I would have loved to have an easier source of macaroni pasta, rather than having to buy it online as I do now. At £1.80 for a 500g bag it’s also very competitively priced for a gluten free product. For me though, the lupin flour (I assume it’s this as there was nothing else unusual in the ingredient list) just didn’t work for me. Who knows, some people may love it, and maybe covered in a thick cheesy sauce you wouldn’t detect the bitter musty note, or maybe I just got a dud batch, but I’m afraid it wasn’t for me. The pasta sauces get a definite thumbs up though.

Note: This review is purely my own perspective of the product and has not been influenced by anyone else. I received no payment for this review, excluding the free samples mentioned above.


The Caked Crusader said...

Even though the pasta was disappointing, it's a step in the right direction that such a big brand is launching a gluten free range

Unknown said...

I find it a little strange that they've gonr for 3 tomato based sauces. You would think they might add interest with a cheese for example...

Caroline said...

The lupin rang faint bells in my memory and after a search it seems that a few people can be very allergic to it, independent of other allergies. It seems to be used quite a lot on the continent and must be labelled there. I guess it has good qualities for texture etc but is apparently not used much in the UK. Shame it made the pasta taste odd, I suppose at least Heinz are trying!