This delicious corn cake topped with chorizo, sauteed poblanos,red bell peppers, and drizzled with chimichurri is my recent recipe obsession. I’ll get to that at the end of the post, but first, a little back story:
A few weeks ago, Blue Apron, a grocery delivery company, reached out and asked me if I’d be interested in trying their service. I thought, why not?
The deal with Blue Apron, I’ve discovered, is this: online you select the type of plan you want (one plan includes poultry/meat/fish, while the other is vegetarian) and the number of people you’re feeding in your household, and they send you all the fresh (raw) ingredients you need to prepare 3 meals. The company charges $9.99 per person, per meal.
Along with the ingredients are recipe cards that guide you through the meal-making process. Each of the dishes—dinners, presumably—is created to be healthy and balanced, with between 500 and 700 calories a plate, and each recipe will only make enough to serve the number of people you selected at the start of your order (for instance, my box came with enough ingredients to serve 2 people, and it served 2 precisely).
On the one hand, I like that the meals only make enough to serve ‘X’ (number of) people. I think preparing single servings is tremendously helpful for those working on portion control and perhaps weight loss. But one potential downside is that each individual at your dinner table has different nutritional/caloric needs, so one standard portion may not “serve” all. Another could-be downside? No leftovers for lunches.
Just a day after placing my order, I was met with a big ol’ insulated box on my doorstep. Everything I’d need for those 3 meals was tightly packed on ice inside. I was surprised (but pleasantly!) to note that even if a recipe called for just a conservative tablespoon of butter, or a teaspoon of red wine vinegar, it was in that box. All you need to have in your pantry is oil, salt, pepper, and the equipment to cook.
I was happy to find out that the ingredients are sourced as locally as possible, and largely come from suppliers that employ sustainable practices. Also great to know that the packaging materials are bio-degradable and the insulated liners are more eco-friendly than similar options, especially considering the fact that the company uses such a significant amount of the stuff.
In general, I love step-by-step photo instructions of anything, and the ones printed on the double-sided 8 ½ x 11” recipe cards were no exception. First, because they showed all of the prepped ingredients laid out, so I knew exactly what my mise en place should look like before starting to cook. There was no need to wonder, how small a dice should this be? What do they mean by a handful of parsley? It’s pictured right there. Second, because the six or so photos of the cooking process helped to guide me through creating a dish I wasn’t particularly familiar with—as was the case with the arepas below.
The first dinner I chose to make was the “Haddock with Melted Leeks and Fingerling Potatoes” because, well, being from New England and all, haddock might as well be synonymous with home to me. The leeks in this recipe steamed and “melted” along with the baby potatoes, minced garlic, and a healthy dab of butter, when sealed together in a foil pouch in the oven.
I will undoubtedly make this meal again and again just to have that buttery packet of potatoes and leeks. Oh my word.
The next night, I chose the “Chicken Thighs with Sweet Potato Orzo Risotto and Zucchini.” This one was comforting, warming, and hearty. A real proper supper. A square meal if ever I’ve had one.
Now, I’m not the biggest fan of sauteed chicken thighs without having some sort of sauce to coat them, but that is more of a personal preference than a complaint about the actual dish. Nonetheless, the highlight for me was the creamy sweet potato orzo, which I’ll surely make as a side dish for many meals to come.
On the third and final night, I cooked these Chorizo Arepas with Arugula Orange Salad—the star of the three meals. It was my favorite for a two reasons: first, it was the most out of the ordinary as far as what I typically prepare in my kitchen, and for that, I have to applaud its unique and unusual appeal. I never work with masarepa (a quick-cooking cornmeal), nor do I often think to whip up a chimichurri, but man, I love hand-held street food. Here, the masarepa is made into a corn cake, onto which I piled sauteed chorizo, poblano peppers, sliced jalapeños, and a garlicky herb sauce (the chimichurri). I then sandwiched it all with another arepa round, and ate it, rather messily, with two hands. This brings me to the second and most important reason it was my favorite of the three recipes I made: it was just so darned good. Lick-your-spicy-fingers good. Wish-you-had-another-arepa-to-sop-up-the-chimichurri-on-your-plate good.
My takeaway from the Blue Apron experience: I loved the convenience and was very pleasantly surprised at how great the recipes were. All of my dinners were flavorful, fresh, and ones I’d definitely want to make again. The step-by-step photo instructions made preparation a breeze, but one drawback would be the time-consuming nature of some of the dishes. Blue Apron claims that all of the recipes can be made in 35 minutes or less, but I found that—including ingredient prep—my total time spent was closer to 50 minutes for at least two of the meals. Now, that could be due to the fact that I’d never made arepas before, or my sometimes laboring perfectionism, but I do like to think of myself as a fairly advanced cook, and still, I twice said to myself, Is it time to eat yet? I will note that once dinner was on the table, the meals themselves were absolutely worth the time rendered.
Another drawback would be the price. I don’t know if I could swing the $9.99 per person, per meal cost for the service, but then again, I do value food more than most other things and perhaps I’d be able to justify it if I weren’t able to make time to grocery shop or meal plan.
recipe slightly adapted from Blue Apron
- 1 ½ cups masarepa
- 6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 links chorizo sausage (4-inches each)
- 1 poblano pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1/2 cup loosely packed oregano, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup loosely packed parsley, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- Juice of 1 lime
- 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed and thinly sliced into rounds (ribs and seeds removed if you want less heat)
- 8 cups arugula
- 1 orange, peeled and sliced crosswise into rounds
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- In a medium bowl, combine the masarepa with 1 ½ cups of water and a pinch of salt. Stir until a dough forms. Transfer the dough to a clean work surface and knead until smooth, about 1 minute. Form into 4 equal balls and gently flatten them with the palms of your hands into ½-inch-thick discs.
- In a large frying pan or skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the arepas (discs of dough), and cook until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. Transfer the arepas to a lightly oiled cookie sheet and bake until cooked through in the middle, 13 to 16 minutes. Let them cool completely on the cookie sheet.
- While the arepas bake, in the same pan used to brown them, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the chorizo and cook until browned on one side, about 5 minutes. Add the poblano and red peppers and season with salt and pepper. Flip the chorizo links and cook until browned and the peppers are completely softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and let the chorizo rest for about 5 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine the oregano, parsley, cilantro, half of the minced garlic, and the vinegar. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- In another small bowl, combine the remaining garlic, the lime juice, and a dash each of salt and pepper. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and whisk to combine.
- When the arepas are cool enough to handle, slice them in half horizontally (forming two thin discs from one). Slice the chorizo thinly on an angle. Place the chorizo slices, peppers, and sliced jalapeños on the bottom halves of the arepas. Drizzle each with a little chimichurri sauce and top with the remaining arepa halves.
- In a large bowl, toss the arugula with the orange slices and the salad dressing. Serve alongside the assembled arepas.
Nutrition Information for 1 Serving (1/4th of entire recipe): Calories 600, Total Fat 39.5 g, Total Carbohydrate 46.7 g, Dietary Fiber 5.9 g, Sugars 6.4 g, Protein 16.3 g
Full disclosure: Blue Apron sent me a week’s worth of groceries free of charge for review. I was not compensated to write this post and, as always, all opinions expressed here are 100% my own.
Have you ever tried a grocery delivery service? Would you like to?