Meal kit delivery businesses continue to attract million-dollar investments, and one of the biggest is Blue Apron, which recently expanded its delivery area to include Texas.
Like Plated and HelloFresh, national companies that also ship to Texas, Blue Apron (blueapron.com) sends a box of ingredients with recipes to your house or office, but you still have to — or get to, depending on your perspective — do the cooking. I tried a number of these services for a story that ran about a year ago about the expanding world of food delivery, but Blue Apron wasn’t delivering here yet.
Earlier this month, I ordered a box and, without getting to pick the dishes, I received all the ingredients I needed to make a chicken torta, pan-fried tilapia and steaks with roasted vegetables. The box was still cold and sitting on my front porch when I got home from work, and because I was in the mood for a sandwich, I immediately made the chicken torta, which was easy to make and even more satisfying to eat. The other two meals weren’t as memorable, only because I’m not a huge caponata fan, which was the Sicilian side dish for the fish, and because I thought the steaks and their side dish of roasted potatoes and Asian long beans were a little on the small side.
Having said that, I do think these kits provide a good option for people who aren’t worried too much about how much each meal costs and might otherwise spend that money on takeout or eating at a restaurant. The two-person plan, which includes ingredients for three meals per week, costs $59.94 per week, including shipping. The family plan, which feeds four people per meal, costs $69.92 or $139.84 per week, depending on if you get two or four meals in each box.
You can cancel or pause the subscription at any time, and even though you don’t get to pick the dishes, as you can through some other services, you can exclude certain kinds of protein if you don’t eat, for instance, seafood or pork. (Speaking of pork, I was inspired by the Blue Apron meal to make a pork torta with some of the leftover tomatoes and pickled red onions.)
An update on some of the other local companies I wrote about last year: Fairy Tale Meals has closed, but Gourmet By Numbers (gourmetbynumbers.com) and Greenling Organic Delivery (greenling.com) are both still selling meal kits for delivery.
Mexican-Style Chicken Tortas with Tomato, Avocado and Cucumber Salad
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 lb. cucumber
1 red onion
1 large bunch cilantro
2 Tbsp. queso fresco
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Mexican spice blend (with ingredients such as ancho chilie powder, Mexican oregano, smoked sweet paprika, garlic powder and ground cumin)
4 tsp. olive oil, divided
2 torta rolls
Wash, dry and prep the fresh produce. Halve the tomato; thinly slice one half and medium dice the remaining half. Cut off and discard the ends of the cucumber; large dice. Pick the cilantro leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Crumble the queso fresco. Peel, halve and thinly slice the onion; place in a bowl with the vinegar. Quarter the lime. Halve, pit and peel the avocado; thinly slice one half and medium dice the remaining half. Top with the juice of one lime wedge to prevent browning.
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Season on both sides with salt, pepper and all but a pinch of the spice blend. In a medium pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 tsp. olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the seasoned chicken and cook, loosely covering the pan with aluminum foil, 4 to 6 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board. Wipe out the pan.
While the chicken cooks, in a medium bowl, combine the diced avocado, diced tomato, cucumber and half the marinated onion; season with salt and pepper. Add the juice of the remaining lime wedges and a drizzle of olive oil; toss to combine the salad and season with salt and pepper to taste.
When the cooked chicken is cool enough to handle, thinly slice crosswise on an angle. Halve the torta rolls and lay the rolls, cut sides up, on a clean, dry work surface. Divide the sliced chicken, sliced avocado, sliced tomato, as much of the remaining marinated onion as you’d like (you may have extra) and half of both the cilantro and queso fresco (reserve the rest for garnish) between the roll bottoms; season with salt and pepper. Complete the sandwiches with the tops of the rolls.
In the pan used to cook the chicken, heat 2 tsp. of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the assembled tortas. Place a heavy pot on top of the tortas to press them down. Cook 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until toasted and lightly browned. Transfer the toasted tortas to a cutting board.
Cut each toasted torta in half diagonally. Divide the sandwiches between two plates. Garnish the salad with the remaining cilantro, queso fresco and spice blend and serve on the side. Serves 2.
— Blue Apron