Are my tastes changing, or are these packaged "quicky meals" getting somewhat better? A couple weeks ago, I tried Kid's Kitchen Cheezy Mac 'n Cheese by Hormel, and found it to be pretty good - a bit on the salty side, but fairly honest ingredients and decent flavor. This time, I tried out Dinty Moore Meals Italian Style Vegetable Stew - another Hormel product - and once again I find myself pleasantly surprised.
That's not to say Dinty didn't get a little weird with the ingredients - big chunks of potatoes and carrots in tomato sauce with pasta?? - but once I got through my initial surprise I found myself enjoying it.
The potatoes are decent - not mealy or crumbly, but good, creamy waxy potatoes that hold up well to the cooking and heating process. The chunks of carrot are sweet and distinct and add a richness and body to the tomato sauce, which itself is tangy and well-balanced - seasoned carefully and very flavorful. The meatballs, although fairly standard canned-food fare containing a good dose of filler, are also delicious in their own way and have a good texture. And the soft-cooked beans compliment the meal as well.
Even though I thought the pasta was actually the weak part of the meal - cut a bit too small, and kind of mushy for my taste - the meal actually comes across more like Pasta e Fagioli with added potatoes than it does "vegetable stew." That little microwaveable bowl turned out to contain a fairly satisfying lunch.
And one more thing: If you're careful about limiting your intake of high-fructose corn syrup, you have nothing to worry about here - there isn't any. Thank you, Hormel.
P.S. My inner 12-year-old giggles like hell every time he reads the label. "Big Bowls." You know what they say about Big Bowls, right? They have Big Bowl Movements! [tee hee hee]