I had my doubts going into this one. I’m generally averse to pre-packaged brand-name instant meals. To be honest, though, Pastaroni’s quick fettucine alfredo is not half bad.
The total prep time from gathering ingredients to starting to eat is about 15 minutes. You’ll need to add 1 1/4 cups water, 1/2 cup milk, and 3 T. margarine, butter, or “spread with no trans fat.” It’s a nice simple recipe, basically just mix it all together, bring it to a boil, let it simmer for 5-6 minutes, then let it stand for 3-5 minutes to thicken. (Microwave alternative, mix it all together, zap it, mix it again, zap it again, then let it stand for 3-5 minutes to thicken.) Aside from the potentially sensitive operation of bringing a milk mixture to a boil, it’s entirely straightforward. The stovetop preparation does require frequent stirring, though, so you’ll spend most of the prep time in front of your Pastaroni.
The biggest problem I had in the cooking stage is that the fettucine alfredo doesn’t actually thicken significantly as the instructions indicate. I measured my liquids precisely and followed the directions to a T, but after giving it the maximum time (and, for that matter, after triple the maximum time) my fettucine alfredo was still soupy enough to require a bowl, even after I’d poured out as much of the excess liquid sauce as I could.
The flavor is quite good, though it’s too salty, as instant meals often are. I automatically reach for spices to custom-season my foods, but I had to resist the temptation this time because Pastaroni actually does a great job of balancing a light creamy cheese flavor with appropriate spices. I’d happily eat this on its own, though this time I threw in some fried onions which went along great with it. If you put in ketchup it would make a nifty grown-up version of mac and cheese.
Prepared with margarine and 2% milk, it’s got 450 calories (230 from fat) per 1-cup serving (about 2 servings/box). It’s high in fat (38% DV per prepared serving) and sodium (48% DV per prepared serving), especially bearing in mind that two servings fills a bowl full and makes a decent-sized meal for one (one hungry 20-something guy, but still). I just got all my sodium for the day. On the plus side, it’s got 9g protein (plus whatever’s in the milk), and it’s a decent source of iron (10% DV/serving), thiamin (30%), niacin (15%), and folic acid (20%). It’s also quite low in cholesterol (2% DV per prepared serving).
Not high cuisine, exactly, and really not good for you, but Pastaroni Fettucine Alfredo is tasty and convenient, and I’d eat it again if I got the chance.