I must confess, I have always wanted to be a judge in a food competition. Sadly, no one has ever asked me to do that, but that isn’t stopping me.
I’m doing it on my own. I think my favorite thing in the world to eat is pizza, so I decided to conduct a taste test of three random meatless pizzas that contain similar ingredients for the first ever installment of “Sunny Tastes”.
On a Friday afternoon a couple of weeks ago, I was looking for a meatless dish because it is Lent, after all, and for me that means abstaining from meat. Pizza was on the menu and saw that a few frozen pizzas were on sale at my local supermarket. Here’s what I purchased…
The idea came to me for a taste test competition as I was putting away the items I purchased from the store when the three pizza boxes were sitting on the counter side by side. I snapped a picture of them and the wheels of blogging about them began turning.
I just want to be clear that I did not eat all these pizzas on the same evening, but over the course of two weeks, and I only ate one serving of each – so don’t be thinking I went hog wild or anything. I kept notes on all my tasting and testing until all three were judged. It also wasn’t a blind tasting either as I was well aware of each pizza brand as I went along. Scientific? Not at all! Fun to do? Absolutely.
So beginning as the judge of my first ever (and so far only) taste test competition, I included Newman’s Own Mushroom Trio (15.1 oz) priced at $5.99, Freschetta’s Spinach and Roasted Mushroom (22.5 oz) priced at $6.49, and Dr. Oetker Virtuoso Signature Spinach (13.8 oz) priced at an incredible $3.99. The final cost to me was based on the fact that I used my shopper loyalty card. After asking the hubby to compute the math at the price per ounce because I hate math, Freschetta and Virtuoso tied and $.29 per ounce and Newman’s was $.40 per ounce.
The first pizza up for consideration was Freschetta’s Spinach and Roasted Mushroom because it was the biggest and I was hungry and the picture on the front of the box looked tantalizingly (is that a word?) delicious. A serving was 1/5 of the pizza at 260 calories 10g of fat, 34g of carbohydrates, and 10g of protein.
I didn’t love the ingredient list – it was long with some stuff I didn’t recognize. I suppose I prefer more natural ingredients.
I loved the crust; it was thin without being ultra crispy, so it had some bread texture to it with some crunch. It had a thick white cream sauce base which is fine, but I prefer a more olive oil based white pizza. It was quite soggy, though, even with cooking it the fullest time and putting it under the broiler to brown the cheese. There was too much spinach and the mushrooms were also on the watery side. I’d rate it a 2.5 out 5 because I’d eat it if it was free, but I won’t be buying it again anytime soon.
Newman’s Own Mushroom Trio was next. It was the most expensive per ounce of the three, and was 300 calories for 1/3 of the pizza with 14 fat grams, 32 carbs, and 13 protein grams. The ingredient list seemed a bit better.
It had a nice crispy crust and was flavorful without seeming overly salty. The mushrooms were slightly watery, even though I also put this one under the broiler to help brown the cheese a bit. The cream sauce was a little thinner than Freschetta’s which I preferred, but still not the olive oil base that I like so much. I liked this pizza for its overall taste and texture, but I didn’t fall in love or anything. The slight wateriness and creamy white sauce were not favorable qualities for me, but I would buy it again – though I would definitely wait for a sale. I appreciate the fact that Newman’s Own brands gives 100% of their profits to charity, so that made the pizza taste even better. I’m giving it a 4 out of 5.
The final pizza I tried was the Dr. Oetker Virtuoso Signature Spinach. A serving size was 1/3 of the pizza at 290 calories, 15g fat, 29g carbs, and 9g protein. The ingredients were not too bad – you can check them out for yourself. Friends, this pizza wasn’t much to look at, but it was a yummy ‘za (yes, ‘za’ is a word and you can use it in Scabble as a slang term for pizza – true story). The crust was crispy if you baked it according to the directions. And again I cranked up the broiler for the last two minutes to brown the cheese somewhat being careful not to burn the crust. It was’t too salty, and had the perfect amount of spinach, so it didn’t taste ridiculously healthy. It differed from the other two contestants in that it had a red sauce that was subtle and neat. I normally prefer a white sauce or olive oil base on my pizza (did I mention that?), so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed the red sauce. It was not watery like the other two probably because there were no mushroom on it. So I am guessing that mushrooms could be the culprit sabotaging the other two pizzas in this contest. Just sayin. I appreciated that for each bite of this pizza the flavors really came through. It was a winner on many levels – price, flavor, texture.
I’m giving Dr. O’s a 4.5 out of 5 due to the fact that I loved it, but it wasn’t perfection. It was the smallest pizza, had the highest fat content, and wasn’t especially pleasing to the eye after coming out of the oven. But I would definitely buy it again, especially when I can save $2.00 off the regular price which always makes me happy!
Well, there you have it. This concludes my first time ever being a food critic and taste test judge. I had a ball, and now I am just waiting for the invitations to be a food judge to come pouring in.