I recently heard about Blue Apron, a service much like Stitch Fix in that you can sign up to receive boxes as frequently or as infrequently as you like. The difference is that the boxes from Blue Apron contain the ingredients for 3 meals designed to feed 2, 4 or 6 people. You can sign up either for vegetarian or non-vegetarian meals and you can decide each week after seeing the recipes whether you want to receive a box or not. If you opt to receive a box, you will receive the ingredients portioned out in the right amounts for the recipe in a refrigerated box and you get a nice little recipe card that shows you how to prepare the meal.
We have not actually signed up for Blue Apron but it’s definitely intriguing in that it takes the planning and shopping out of the equation (the two hardest parts of cooking, especially when you have a busy and active toddler at home!). They pick the recipes, do the shopping and send you the ingredients. All you have to do is follow the recipe and cook a delicious home-cooked meal! Since we are interested in maybe looking into signing up, we decided to try out some of their recipes to see how they are. I had heard from a couple friends who are signed up that the amount of prepwork they require is overwhelming for a mid-week meal but since Ken & I often enjoy making complicated meals I figured we might not mind the prep-work. The one problem I foresee is that they don’t guarantee that you’ll have leftovers since the meals are perfectly portioned for 2 people, which means you still have to think about what to cook 4 other nights of the week. I love me some good leftovers so that might be problematic.
Last night I made a West African Vegetable Stew with Peanuts and we served it over Israeli CousCous. Here is the recipe, with my own changes added in!
- 1 3/4 cups of Israeli couscous
- 4 Cloves Garlic
- 1 Small Piece Ginger
- 1 Onion
- 1 Scallion
- 1 Small Eggplant
- 1 Sweet Potato
- 1 Zucchini
- 2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
- 1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1 Tablespoon Tomato Paste
- 1 14.5-Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes
- 1 Cup Vegetable Broth + 2.25 Cups of Vegetable Broth
- 1/3 Cup Peanut Butter
First, toast Israeli couscous in a medium pot over medium-high heat in Olive Oil until the pearls start to brown/toast a little bit. Once they have started to toast, add 2.25 cups of vegetable broth to the pot. Bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil turn heat down to low, cover and simmer 8-10 minutes until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Be sure to check frequently and stir to make sure the couscous does not burn to the bottom of the pan.
Meanwhile, prepare your vegetables: Peel and roughly chop the garlic. Peel and mince the ginger. Peel and large dice the onion. Slice the scallion. Large dice the eggplant. Peel and medium dice the sweet potato. Cut the zucchini in half lengthwise, then crosswise into half moons.
To cook the vegetables: In a large pot, heat some olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the onion and sweet potato. Cook 2 to 3 minutes, or until the onion softens. Stir in the ginger, garlic, cumin, and cinnamon for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Stir in the tomato paste until combined, about 30 seconds. Add the zucchini and eggplant, season with salt and pepper, and cook about 3 minutes, or until softened, stirring occasionally.
This dish was different from a lot of dishes we make in that it was vegetarian and we didn’t feel like it was missing anything. Sometimes we’ll make a vegetarian dish and feel like it would have been better with chicken/meat/fish added in but this held its own. The flavors were spectacular and ones that we are not used to working with often. I really liked this dish and will definitely make it in the future. It seems versatile in that other vegetables could easily be added to it, depending on what’s in season. I also got the sense that some stew meat or chicken might be delicious added in as well.
We intend to try a few more Blue Apron recipes before committing to anything but so far this one was definitely a hit! An added bonus is that this dish did make enough to keep for leftovers for the week. Ken brought some for lunch today and I’ll likely have some tomorrow.