“ Brand: Waitrose / Type: Sauces „
I cook a lot with pasta and, as a result, Waitrose Essential Tomato and Basil Sauce tends to be one of the staple products in my fridge. I shop in Waitrose and there are a wide range of sauces to choose from, but tomato and basil really is one of those basic products that is a must have for basic savory cooking. My favourite recipe is to fry up some chicken, bacon, courgette, onion and chives and then stir in this sauce with some penne pasta. Then transfer this to a dish and sprinkle with cheese and breadcrumbs........and pop in the oven for 20 minutes or so. Delicious and very simple! This sauce comes in a plastic pot with a resealable lid so that you don't have to use the whole pot in one go if you don't want to. I generally use what I want to use for my first dish and then leave the remaining sauce in the pot and pop it into the freezer (if the pot is left in the fridge, once opened, it needs to be used within three days - but in the freezer can last three months). The sauce itself looks and smells very fresh. Unsurprisingly, the sauce is a deep red in colour and their are chunks of tomato clearly visible in the sauce. It smells intensely of tomato and is thick and rich in the way that you'd probably want a tomato pasta sauce to be. Although I can't see any basil, I can taste the basil in it, although I do generally find that I need to add a little more, together with some garlic, salt and pepper. To use the sauce is very easy. It's a stir in sauce - and it only needs to be heated through, although its also fine if you want to bake with it. Because the flavour is quite intense, I tend to use less of the sauce as I might use with other pre-made sauces and top it up either with water, cream or mascapone (or a mixture of them). It does taste like you made this sauce from scratch and if you were cooking for others I know you could probably pull off saying it was your own recipe (not that any of us would do that, right!?). It cost a very reasonable £1.49 for a 350 g pot of the sauce - which seems a price I am more than willing to pay. It is low fat and low in salt content which is great for those of us who are watching our calories and our blood pressure! Overall, I think this is a good sauce which serves as a good base for any tomato pasta based dish.
Normally I'll use Lloyd Grossman pasta sauces or sometimes supermarket own brand sauces from Saibsurys and Tesco but on this occasion, we were doing an Internet shop at Ocado and to make up the minimum delivery amount, we decided to add some of this pasta sauce to the virtual basket as it was one of the cheapest. THE PACKAGING The sauce comes in a clear, plastic 'pot' type that we found extremely difficult to open via the 'catch' at the side of the lid. Once it was opened, the lid didn't fit as securely as I would have liked. Although it wasn't in grave danger of coming off, it just didn't feel particularly secure if the pot was to tip over accidentally. Fortunately, I kept it in the fridge shelf in between uses (which was for only day) so there wasn't much opportunity for that to happen. THE LOOK As you'd probably expect, the sauce is a bright red colour. There are some large chunks of tomato visible once it's poured out of the container but for me, the basil wasn't particularly visible. In other tomato and basil sauces that I've cooked with, there have been obvious sprinkles of basil in the sauce but this didn't seem to be the case here. A quick check of the ingredients on the Ocado website confirms that basil is 0.1% of the ingredients, so that'll be why then! THE SMELL It smells very much of tomato and this hits you literally the second you open the pot. It's a rich smell that is more enticing than most of the other similar pasta sauces that I've used. COOKING WITH IT It's easily stirred into the pasta but I feel like I need to use a good amount to seem as though there will be enough to fully cover the pasta. In reality, I ended up with too much sauce on the plates so it seems that a typical pot will easily have enough sauce for two decent-sized (but not overly large) platefuls of pasta and perhaps a bit left over. It's fresh pasta sauce, so it's got to be used quickly if you're not going to freeze it to use at a later date. Personally, I did go down the freezing route, thawed it out and then added it to the pasta as you normally would if it had just come straight from the pot.The instructions advise heating it through for 5-6 minutes but it was piping hot after more like 4 for me. It can also be microwaved but I didn't do this so can't advise on that front. THE TASTE The taste is obviously tomato but it isn't as rich as I'd expected given the smell when it was cooking. It's perfectly adequate though and the chunks of chopped tomato give it some nice flavour but I think it would have just a tad better if there was more basil to improve the taste. It's fine if you like tomato pasta sauces but not so good if you were expecting to get some basil in there too as this is really just a tomato sauce without that. THE PRICE £1.49 for a 350g tub. In comparison to the Lloyd Grossman jars that we buy most regularly, there seems to be slightly more sauce here as I usually only get two decent-sized meals out of one of the LG jars and what is left isn't really enough to do much else so it usually goes in the bin. Seeing as the LG jars tend to retail for more than £1.49 if they're not on offer, this seems good value as it was hardly horrible - just not the combination of tomato and basil that I'd expected. NUTRITIONAL INFORMATION Suitable for vegetarians. According to the Ocado website, it's egg-free, yeast-free and milk-free. Per 100g, there is 5.5g of carbohydrates (of which 5.5g is sugars); 1.4g of fat (0.3g of which is saturated) and 0.38g of sodium. FINAL THOUGHTS I was going to give a four-star rating but on second thoughts, I'm rating it down a star for the lack of basil seeing as that's part of the product name and description and people will undoubtedly be expecting to see more of it than there actually was.