I had the good fortune of being gifted a week of Blue Apron for Christmas this year! I had been interested in trying a meal delivery service like this for a while now. My first impression was really positive. I clicked on the link from my gift email and easily got setup and chose the meals I wanted for the week. My box arrived right on schedule and well packed. It was easy to sift through everything and get it laid out to cook when ready. All of the meals were really tasty! I give Blue Apron credit for coming up with new and interesting meals each week without repeating things.
The three meals I received were Baked Ricotta Cannelloni, Chipotle Vegetable & Farro Salad and Vegetable Fried Rice Bowls. In all three cases, the instructions were easy to follow and the ingredients were very fresh. I am a pretty practiced cook and the first thing I noticed was that it took me MUCH longer than the estimated times to complete these meals. While that didn’t matter on the days I was cooking, it would have been a bummer after a long day at work. If I had another set of hands, we may have gotten it done quicker. The other thing is that these recipes required ALOT of dishes; more than I think is really necessary. For example, in the vegetable fried rice, the recipe had you roast the cauliflower. While that tasted good with a nuttiness coming from the roasting process, however, if you cooked all of the veggies in one pan (like a wok), you could cut both the time and the dishes. They also wanted you to fry eggs for the top of the dish in a separate pan, which I skipped all together to cut calories, but I have just whisked and then cooked the egg in the same wok as the rest of the meal in my own version. I am certain the texture adds dimension, but as a home cook, I really want a way to find that dimension without making a mess of my entire kitchen. Same with the farro salad, you needed one bowl for the pickling of the shallot and radish, a pan for roasting veggies, pot for farro, bowl for mixing and mice en place bowls for all of the pieces. I have often made giant messes in my kitchen, but these recipes gave me a full dish washer everyday and for just one person, that is a lot to tackle.
Chipotle Vegetable & Farro Salad
Tucked inside the little bags labeled “Kick Knacks,” were the nutrition facts for these recipes. One things that really surprised me was that the Cannelloni had the least calories at 710 the Farro Salad & Fried Rice were both 760. That is way more calories than I regularly want in a meal. I usually target closer to 500 calories per meal. As I mentioned before, I left some things out to cut some calories.
Leftover Items – Plenty of Flavor, Less Calories
There were some things that were provided that you really didn’t need to use all of that were really high in calories (ie- sesame oil, cashews, eggs, and extra sauce). Some of those things really add a lot of punch without needing a lot of volume. The Cannelloni really was 2 servings, but I do think the other two recipes will stretch further, so I can save myself on some calories and get an extra couple meals for the week!
Roasted Vegetable Fried Rice
I will reiterate, I really enjoyed these meals! They gave me a new twist on things I have made in the past and got me cooking things I wouldn’t usually make. I learned to cook farro, which I love and have not made at home before. I can see Blue Apron being a great fit for a couple wanting to try some new things. I think I am a bit critical of recipes to begin with and am usually lucky if I follow it 80%. In these cases, I stuck pretty close to the recipes since I had all the ingredients. I might think about trying this again, but would really prefer something with healthier options.
Baked Ricotta Cannelloni
I think my favorite was the cannelloni and meyer lemon salad. The salad was the perfect compliment to the pasta dish. It felt fresh and comforting all at the same time. I also think that was the easiest of the recipes, though it did take me about an hour start to finish. Everything was enjoyable and it got me back in the kitchen and inspired again. I loved getting to try it out and may look for another version to compare. Let me know if you have tried it!