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I Know This Is Blasphemous & Sounds Absurd... But Want Help Recreating Frozen Meal

TheBigLeChowski | May 4, 2017 11:03 PM

Hi everyone. First of all I'm new posting here, so please go easy on me, lol. I know a request of this sort sounds completely ridiculous (I mean, a processed FROZEN meal? Come on!) But I really am wanting to replicate a specific frozen dinner meal that was found in any grocery store, and it was discontinued, much to my dismay.

It was from Bertolli's "Mediterranean" line of frozen bagged meals. I liked many of their meals in this lighter version compared to their main line of frozen meals. But I guess I was in the minority and most of their customers favored the heavier-sauced meals (alfredo sauces, etc,) since almost the entire Mediterranean line was discontinued.

It was the Bertolli Mediterranean Style "Garlic Shrimp, Penne & Cherry Tomatoes". I know it sounds simple to recreate, but keep in mind I am really far from an expert in cooking. I've had lovely dishes with similar ingredients, and they do taste much more "real", and fresh, but I just don't know how to recreate this specific meal.

It was really more of a comfort meal for me...it was my favorite instant meal at a time when my health was in a particularly bad state and I had a hard time cooking in the kitchen. So it became a favorite for me, and I now still crave it to this day.

The ingredients are as follows (copied and pasted): Penne Pasta (Durum Wheat Semolina, Water, Soybean Oil, Salt), Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Cooked Garlic Shrimp [Shrimp, Garlic Powder, Maltodextrin, Modified Corn Starch, Corn Syrup Solids, Salt, Sugar, Spices, Lemon Juice Solids, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Cellulose Gum, Lemon Oil, Citric Acid, Natural Flavor, Less than 2% Tricalcium Phosphate (to Prevent Caking), Tripolyphosphate (to Retain Moisture)], Water, Asparagus, White Wine, Canola Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Garlic, Basil, Onions, Parsley, Rice Starch, Salt, Nonfat Milk, Clam Extract Concentrate, Wheat Flour, Whole Eggs, Parmesan Cheese (Pasteurized Cow's Milk, Culture, Salt, Enzymes), Spices.

I know, I know...it's just processed crap. I just want to be able to make my own version of it that is close. Aside from the ultra-processed taste I will likely never recreate, the liquid broth/sauce that it came in after heating is perhaps one of my biggest concerns. Every time I save cooking liquid (or broth) from cooking pasta (to re-add), it tends to turn creamier rather than the very clear and flavorful liquid broth that was in the frozen meal. Also I always have the issue of the pasta re-absorbing the leftover liquid quickly. Thereby making the pasta overdone eventually, and then the nice clear broth liquid is gone.

So any suggestions or advice would truly be appreciated. Since it was such a comfort meal for me, I would love to just make something at least close to it in order to satisfy that craving.

Oh, and P.S....I'm ok with occasional MSG. So if anyone wants to suggest that for this particular recipe, I'm totally ok with that. I've experimented with 100% MSG when I grew concerned about my reactions to it, and it turned out I had none. I probably have issues with a ton of other additives and ingredients lol, but apparently MSG doesn't seem to be one of them.

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