Friday, September 2, 2016

Blue Apron Food Delivery Review - Pan Bagnat-Style Sandwiches

A colleague was recently describing her experiences with the Blue Apron food delivery program. Blue Apron is one of many new food delivery services that deliver weekly meals. These services vary in terms of what they provide and how they provide it. Some, like Blue Apron, simply provide the ingredients and instructions but you still do the cooking. Other services deliver cooked or mostly cooked meals that you simply plate and serve. Since my colleague was a Blue Apron subscriber, she said she could give me a code to get a free week of meals.

This is my first experience with any of these services and there are a variety of options here in the Bay Area. As of this writing, Blue Apron delivers three meals per week for $59 for the two person plan. There is also a family plan (four people) which delivers 2 meals for $69 or four meals for $169. We opted for the two person plan and there was an vegetarian option but I didn't explore too much to see if there was a pescetarian option.

Assured that I could get my free week and then cancel if I wanted to, I signed up. Since we already get a weekly CSA box I was concerned that we might have a glut of food.

I arranged for our delivery to arrive on a Friday but I could have selected from a variety of delivery days. The box arrived on our front porch and was there when I got home from work. Upon opening the box, I found that the ingredients of all three two-person meals were nestled inside a foil packing. All of it is sitting on two large frozen "freezer packs."

Just before the first delivery, I also got an email that detailed their environmental packaging practices. All packaging is recyclable which was nice to hear.

First impressions are everything. So this posting details the first menu I made even though I've since made all three menus. The first meal I prepared was a Pan Bagnat-Style Sandwich with a Baby Kale Salad.

Sitting on top of all of the packaging were three 8.5x11 two-sided, full color description of the meals and the back side contained full instructions with photos for each step.

All of the ingredients are packaged and clearly labeled and were high quality. For the sandwich, it would have been easier to supply some so-so bread. But the bread supplied for this recipe tasted fresh and it was light and airy. Most everything you need is in the box. For at least the first week, all I supplied was cooking oil, salt and pepper, and the pans and utensils.

It is true that once you sign up you can skip weeks up to a month at a time. So, conceivably, you could get it every week or just a few busy times of the year. When you log in you can see the menu for each week and you can swap out dishes that don't appeal to you.

The Pan Bagnat sandwich is a Mediterranean sandwich which features seasonal produce. It is a staple in the Provence and is served in every bakery or through street vendors. The ingredients vary and it often has tuna in it. This is a vegetarian version (but there are eggs in it). Another key feature is that the sandwich, regardless of the ingredients, gets wrapped tightly and given some time for the flavors to marry. The recipe is very much open to interpretation and if you look online you will find a wide variety of ingredients.

So who is Blue Apron good for? Well, if your issue is not enough time to come home and cook a meal then Blue Apron is not for you. You get all of the ingredients but it takes more time than advertised to actually prep, cook, and serve the meal at the end of the day. But it's a high quality, gourmet meal. If your issue is deciding what's for dinner or no time to shop for ingredients then Blue Apron is perfect. With Blue Apron you get high quality ingredients, exposure to new recipes,  and plenty of exposure to new ways of prepping and preparing meals. Since I fall more in the latter category, I'm keeping the Blue Apron account alive for now to try it out a few more times but this sandwich was a keeper.

Pan Bagnat-Style Sandwiches

Ingredients:

  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 2 small sandwich loaves
  • squash (zucchini and other style)
  • cucumber
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Directions:
  • Hard boil the eggs ahead of time.
  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees
  • Thinly slice cucumbers and let them soak in the vinegar for at least 10 minutes, stirring periodically.
  • Thinly slice the squash.
  • Thinly slice the hard boiled eggs.
  • Roughly chop the capers and add to a bowl with mayonnaise and stir to mix.
  • Drizzle the bread halves with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and toast in the over for about 10 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Rub the toasted bread with the peeled garlic clove. 
  • Lightly brown the squash slices in a non-stick pan with olive oil.
  • Place sandwich halves on aluminum foil and spread the caper mayonnaise on one side of each sandwich and Dijon mustard on the other.
  • Add slices of cooked squash and eggs on the bottom half of the sandwich; season with salt and pepper.
  • Top with cucumbers (leaving the vinegar behind).
  • Put the top bread on top and tightly wrap the sandwich in the foil.
  • Place a heavy object on top of the sandwiches; let stand for at least 5 minutes of compression
  • Unwrap sandwiches from the foil, slice in half, and serve.



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