Although they’ve been on store shelves for a while, I was really excited to come across Amy’s gluten and dairy free baked ziti and vegetable lasagna frozen meals at Hoover’s Market, one of my favorite local specialty stores for all things gluten and dairy free. Although my taste for pasta has almost evaporated since going gluten free, I was willing to try these out during my time in training with my new service dog knowing that they would be a convenient option at the end of each busy day. As it turned out, I’m so glad I tried these two dishes out because they definitely hit the spot and were incredibly close to their gluten and dairy free counterparts I grew up with. What’s even better about them is that they both are produced with top quality ingredients and by a company that understands that gluten and dairy free entrees do not have to be bland or boring.
The veggie lasagna caught my eye initially because I have been looking for a gluten and dairy free lasagna for a while. Although I know gluten free lasagna noodles can be found, I didn’t know where to begin crafting a gluten and dairy free alternative to this comfort food. Once reading the package, I was hesitant about the Daiya “cheeze” (vegan cheese alternative) on top, which I do not particularly care for, and the tofu in the lasagna, which again, I have not been a fan of historically. Nevertheless, I put my reservations aside and put in into the toaster over to cook. When I took it out after the designated cooking time, I feared I had cooked it wrong because the “cheeze” looked exactly like it did when it was frozen. However, this is normal because vegan “cheeze” does not melt or spread like its dairy counterpart. However, upon taking my first bite, it was warm, gooey, and fully cooked through. Overall, I loved the tomato sauce which was rich and tomato-y as well as the noodles and cooked veggies. They were incredibly closed to how I remembered lasagna to be. The down side, as I feared, was the Daiya and the tofu, which were noticeably “off” in color and texture. I would do without both in in heartbeat, but for those who do not mind them, they would probably enjoy this meal.
After picking up the gluten and dairy free lasagna, I looked more closely at Hoover’s stock of Amy’s frozen foods to see what other foods I might be missing. Sure enough, I spotted the baked ziti and promptly picked up a box to sample. Although the ingredients are similar, I wanted to try out different presentations of the pasta to compare. The ziti portion was a bit bigger and had a longer cook time, but was prepared in the same way as the lasagna. I still had my beef with the Daiya “cheeze” on top and its rubbery, slimy texture, but once I got past the top layer, the entree was delicious. I loved the sweet green peas nestled among the noodles and sauce which provided a nice pop of color and help compliment the flavors of the noodles and sauce. As a meal, the ziti satisfied me more overall and would get my vote in the end.