We put out a call to readers to be part of the panel of tasters. Forty of them came together on a Saturday morning at the HTA Culinary School in Randburg, Johannesburg, to taste ready-made beef lasagnes from three leading supermarkets.
Chef Kabelo Segone, assisted by chefs Lerato Maake, Levy Pelele and Refilwe Makatu, prepared the food as per package instructions.
The panel of tasters were presented with each of the products "naked" without any branding or packaging. The beef lasagnes were judged on appearance, taste, ratio of mince to pasta and the sauce.
Auditor Jade Craig was on hand to monitor the objectivity of the blind-tasting process, from removing the packaging to numbering the products, overseeing the preparation and adding up the score sheets.
First place: Checkers Bella Vita lasagne, 1kg
"Flavour and texture good but could have more mince."
"Pleasant peppery flavour. The pasta is good."
"The creamy sauce was delicious and I loved the cheesy top."
"I had to have a second portion to discover that the meat is very finely minced and I would prefer it more chunky."
Second place: Pick n Pay Beef lasagne, 1.2kg
"There's way too much tomato so the mince is overpowered. Why is the sauce only on the top?"
"It was OK but nothing to write home about."
"Pretty good tomato sauce, it could be better with extra meat and cheese."
"It looks like mozzarella ... although the sauce is too tomato-y."
Third place: Woolworths Beef lasagne, 300g
"Looked like something made for children."
"The pasta texture is good but tasteless."
"It tastes like a cheeseburger pie."
"Not very appetizing. It doesn't look great and was very bland."
"Very anaemic-looking but made up for that with lovely balance of pasta, sauce and mince."