I’m extra basic when it comes to cooking. I have a few super-simple go-to recipes and I fill in with a shake, a big salad, and prepackaged food like veggie burgers or vegetable fried rice. You might say I’ve fallen into a predictable rut. I’m okay with that, but it can be a little boring.
I received an invitation for a free Blue Apron box of ingredients and recipes from my friend Julie, and since “free” fits right in with my budget I decided to go for it!
I received my box very quickly and made the first recipe right away since there was an open kitchen (I live with a delightful family of five and those kids want to eat like EVERY DAY): This was a slightly spicy tomato-cream sauce baked with ditali pasta, onions, broccoli and chili flakes. The best part was layered mozzarella and garlic-bread crumbs on top! I would give this pasta 3 stars..yummy but nothing to write home about.
I brought the ingredients for the next recipe to a sleepover at AshLueb’s house. Both Ashleys were there, and together we followed the instructions to make a Cauliflower Chickpea Tagine!
I have to say, this was the recipe I was least looking forward to trying. Cauliflower and chickpeas with a weird sauce? If I’d had the option to switch out this recipe I would have..but..it was free so here we are. I figured the Ashleys would like it at least since they eat weird phenomena like tofu and kimchi.
As we sauteed green? cauliflower and onion with savory Moroccan Ras el Hanout spices and tomato paste, I was dubious. Ladling the tagine over feta-couscous and drizzling yogurt-like Labneh cheese on top, I sat down and poked a hesitant forkful into my mouth. It was… DELICIOUS! I now have to figure out where to buy these North African ingredients so I can pull this gem out for dinner parties! I love that it’s so different from what I would normally make! Score, Blue Apron!
The third recipe I received was Pickled Beet Grilled Cheese sandwiches with a mixed citrus salad. The salad sounded fine, but I’ll be honest: I find beets repulsive. I was still willing to try it because I love fontina cheese and there was a secret ingredient to spread on the other piece of sourdough: fig jam. Except..there wasn’t. They forgot to send it. There was no way in Helsinki I was eating grilled cheese with just beets so I put the salty maroon jello slices on my salad instead since they’re supposed to be so great for you. I made a plain grilled cheese, rubbed down with a garlic clove after cooking, and threw the scallions, almonds, beets, and oranges in with the butter lettuce. The grilled cheese was good but I was salty about missing out on the fig jam that would have taken it to the next level. The salad was not good. Not even a little. The flavors didn’t mesh well and it was bitter (kinda like yours truly).
All in all, I was grateful for the free box but probably wouldn’t pay to try it again. 65 dollars for six servings ain’t cheap, especially if you don’t love the recipe or could have made it for half the price just by stopping at Kroger. Also, when I reported the missing ingredient their solution was to have me uncancel my next box and give me a five-dollar discount. No, thanks.
Working in the food service industry for years, I understand people complain about dumb stuff, but I also know the importance of making it right when you make a mistake..especially if someone is trying your product or service for the first time..or writing a blog about it..
Helpful hints: You can select from a few different meals unless you are vegetarian, in which case you are stuck with whatever their three veg offerings are that week. If you do get a free box, you have to cancel at the latest by the date you receive it, otherwise they will start processing and shipping your next order!
All in all, I’m glad I tried it! I’m definitely happy to have the recipe for that tagine! Everyone should try a free box because free food tastes better (except beets, obviously).