Frozen dishes: The best options

It gets no respect, frozen food, but your grocer's freezer is a culinary treasure trove. And I'm going to prove it to you. Over the past few weeks I've trolled the freezer aisles in markets all over the area to come up with a list of frozen dishes that are just plain delicious.

No complete meals here. I found that when a microwaveable tray contained more than one item, neither flourished in the reheating (exception: Indian entrees featuring a stew and rice). I also found that specialty grocers have the most interesting frozen offerings. Supermarket freezer cases tend to be dominated by the big national brands, few of whose wares impressed me. Invariably these products are long on salt, sugar and unpronounceable ingredients, short on the flavor and texture of real, wholesome food.

Most of these products are reheatable in the microwave, but in a few cases they require an oven or even a skillet. The key to fooling friends and family into thinking that you labored over a hot stove is to transfer the reheated food into a pretty dish, add a little parsley and hide the empty box. --ERICA MARCUS,

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