Friday, March 27, 2015

Review: SimplyNature Uncured Pepperoni Thin & Crispy Pizza (ALDI)

Having tried and liked several varieties of frozen pizza from ALDI (as well as THIS take-and-bake pie), I was intrigued by the appearance of an "Uncured Pepperoni" thin and crispy pizza bearing the SimplyNature brand.  
Click on any image to enlarge

What is uncured pepperoni? The USDA defines uncured as products that have not been preserved by adding sodium nitrite or sodium nitrate. ALDI tells us that this uncured pepperoni contains "no nitrates or nitrites except those naturally occurring in in sea salt and celery juice powder." See?  I told you that pizza is a health food! 

I generally check the calorie count, and I must reject some frozen pies when I see the obscene numbers. This pie, though (which cost about $4) had only 840 calories for the entire pizza.  Some are over 3,000 calories.

When I took it out of the box, it was easy to see why it has a modest calorie count.  It's a very thin crust, and at most 12 inches in diameter. Any adult male could easily eat the whole thing; I prepared it for two, along with a big garden salad.
Out of the oven, party-cut

Following package directions, I baked it at 425 degrees directly on the center rack for 9-12 minutes (closer to 12).  The top looked fully cooked, but the bottom could have benefited from another minute in the oven.

Given its resemblance to the thin-crust Midwestern kind of pies you'd find at regional chain Monical's (reviewed HERE), I sliced it in the square party-cut style common to bar pies and Midwestern thin crust pizza.

The crust was whole wheat, and you could see the darker color and tell by its taste. Overall, the texture was chewy and satisfying but lacking the crunch I prefer. The sauce was thin and sweet. No off notes, but it did not deliver any full flavors. The cheese was a role player, too. Not bad, but not special.
Underside of the whole-wheat crust

The pepperoni, with generous amounts of big circles, was the highlight. It had a savory-salty flavor and a good chewy texture. But in general, this is the kind of pie that sends you looking for something to sprinkle on top (cheese, pepper flakes, oregano, garlic powder, or salt) to give it some oomph.

This pie - and its ambition to be a healthy version of pizza - earns a 5. Not a bad $4 emergency dinner to have in your freezer, but not a pizza I would seek out again.  It pales in comparison to the other ALDI $4 frozen pizza - Mama Cozzi's Caprese - which is made in Germany. 

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