Close your eyes very tight. Think hard. Think even harder than that. Now, conjure up the naffest celebrity endorsed product you can think of. Have you got it? OK. Let me guess… is it it an Ainsley Harriott Bake in the Box Sundried Tomato & Marscapone Pasta Bake? Yes? I knew it!
In the pantheon of celeb endorsed food this really does appear to be a crap one and because of that I had to try it. I found this pasta bake in the B&M Bargains mentioned in last weeks blog I’ve never seen one before and perhaps that’s because the only outlet they have at the moment is B&M Bargain, but in time they could appear in a supermarket near you.
I ripped open the cardboard lid to find 2 silvery foil packages underneath. They looked like how I imagine space food or army rations to be, which didn’t inspire confidence. Space food/army rations are created out of a necessity to offer sustenance in difficult circumstances, and whilst Chadwick Rd, Peckham might not have a state of the art kitchen, it’s not Basra or the moon.
Anyway onto the cooking. First thing is to mix the marscapone/tomato powder with some boiling water and milk. Next job was to tip the farfalle into the cardboard box, pour over the milky powder concoction and bake for 15 minutes. Yes you read it right I was baking a cardboard box of pasta, milk and powder. After 15 mins I took it out, broke the browny red skin on the top, mixed it around and put it back in to finish off for another 10 minutes.
When it came out, it didn’t look too bad for cardboard box food, but it was hardly Alain Ducasse. The only way I can describe it is that it’s like pasta cooked in cup-a-soup. I suppose that is a fair description because essentially that is what it was, with the added luxury of semi-skimmed milk.
The pasta tasted of pasta which was a relief. There was a hint of creaminess going on, but I would struggle to put that down to marscapone if it wasn’t for the box telling me. There was a tomato kind of flavour, but it was definitely a tomato that had been created in a factory rather than a tomato grown on the vine in some mediterranean idyll. It had that chemical quality to it which is better suited to a laboratory than coating your oesophagus.
The one advantage you tend to find with a product like this is that it’s quick, it’s convenient and you could have it at work for lunch. This one goes against all those principals. It takes half an hour, you need an oven to make it and you could rustle up a far superior version yourself with fresh ingredients, in half the time. I can’t see where this would fit into anyones life.
Ainsley Harriott Bake in the Box Sundried Tomato & Marscapone Pasta Bake £ (can’t remember) for 120g