It’s been kind of a bonkers few weeks in our house: we were supposed to leave for Orlando last Saturday and had a wedding to attend last Friday afternoon and all kinds of evening commitments in between. The craziness peaked on Wednesday morning when in a fit of temporary election-induced insanity I canceled our trip to Orlando and instead booked a trip to Maui. More on that later. But anyway, the madness made it a perfect week to let Blue Apron do the shopping and pick out our recipes. In addition to perfect timing, I opted for this week’s box because it is 100% dairy-free. On top of that, except for the dumpling wrappers, our recipes this week are also gluten free! It’s practically paleo which is so awesome to find.
The good folks at Blue Apron picked out and packed up the following for us:
- Vietnamese Meatballs with Sweet Potato Noodles and Daikon Radish
- Shrimp & Shiitake Dumplings with Sauteed Bok Choy and Soy Dipping Sauce
- Seared Chicken with Honeynut Squash and Garlic Rice
I felt a little nervous on Monday afternoon when the shipment tracking information showed that the label had been created but the package had yet to enter the system. Fortunately, my fears were misplaced as the happy Blue Apron box arrived as scheduled on Tuesday afternoon.
With the craziness of a week gearing into a holiday, we actually ended up splitting this box up over two weeks. We didn’t freeze the protein over the few days we were out of town, but I’m sure you could have to no ill effects. What a true blessing to come home from our trip and have all the goods for a delicious, healthy dinner already in the house!
I was most excited about the dumplings, so we started there as soon as the box arrived!
Shrimp & Shiitake Dumplings with Sauteed Bok Choy
These were a little outside of our comfort zone, as we have never made dumplings before. But we have eaten them many, many times so we felt confident that if we could fight through it, we’d enjoy. And we were right!
The flow of this recipe was a little strange. It required us to prep the filling, cook it, then sautee the bok choy, then fill the dumplings. We teamed up and I filled and shaped the dumplings while Eric sauteed the bok choy. Also note: it matters how small you chop up your shrimp! Get them tiny as possible to save yourself a headache later. You will have a TON of leftover filling; just mix it in with some rice for good leftovers.
The only other issue we had with this recipe is the bok choy. First off, we got a very small bok choy. It would have sufficed for both of us if we just blanched it. However, once we sauteed it down for even the few minutes the recipe called for, it reduced to be barely enough for one serving. Eric ended up having some rice with his dumplings and let me have the bok choy. This was the first time that the serving size for Blue Apron ended up being on the small side, so a bit of a bummer.
Fortunately, the flavor of the dumplings more than made up for the sparse bok choy! The dumpling filling tasted outrageously scrumptious, full of meaty umami flavor. The dipping sauce balanced sweet tang with saltiness and melded perfectly with both the dumplings and the bok choy. Overall, this one gets a solid B as it turned out delicious, but probably not so amazing that we would pursue it again on our own.
Vietnamese Meatballs with Sweet Potato Noodles
When we got home from Maui on Wednesday afternoon, I felt so relieved to know that we had this ready for us to get cracking on at home. Eric was a saint and let me take a nap while he got this one going. The time change and all that travel really took a lot out of me!
The real star in this dish is the sweet potato noodles. Made from sweet potato starch, these guys are glassy and chewy and always delightful. They don’t hold sauce well, so it’s a good idea to get some veggies or meatball with each bite. The texture of the noodles is such a treat, though! And gluten-free to boot!
Blue Apron seems to struggle again with meatballs (sadly) but these were a little more interesting. We were instructed to add some of the aromatics and some of the soy sauce into the meat mixture. I still think some egg and/or sauteed onion would help even further, but these were moister than our last Blue Apron meatballs so, still, an improvement.
The vegetable broth / sauce / topping was interesting. The lemongrass provided a big punch of flavor, which was an unusual choice with the bitter turnip. I was surprised to find the celery as the source of sweetness in this mix. I think what this recipe really was missing was a hearty “base” to the sauce. It had tang and bitterness but no warmth or pepper to bring it home.
Unfortunately, not even the glorious sweet potato noodles could save this one. As much as I love meatballs, these Vietnamese ones are getting a C.
Seared Chicken with Honeynut Squash
First of all, callooh callay that the honeynut squash arrived as planned! This little baby is amazing and my new favorite squash! (A hotly contended categorization.) Easy to cut, medium-difficult to peel, and absolute heaven once roasted. MOAR HONEYNUT SQUASH PLEEZ!
But the honeynut is just a small element of what was wonderful about this dish. I was least excited about this recipe of the three, actually. Partially because chicken breast, which, snore. I keep asking science to create my chicken with four thighs and zero breasts but no luck yet. Anyway, chicken and rice just didn’t get me going when I read about this dish, but it was paleo-esque so I figured we’d go with it.
BOY HOWDY, IS THIS RECIPE A STAR! The flow of the recipe itself was seamless and breezy. I moved effortlessly and quickly from prepping the veggies to roasting the squash and cooking the rice. The pepitas were fun to toast and I was able to throw them and the cilantro into the slap-chop at once to speed up the sauce. We ended up using the cast iron to cook the chicken in and it was the right move — we got a gorgeous crust on it that was satisfying to chew.
The lime in the rice and the sweetness of the squash really played so nicely with the earthy nuttiness of the sauce and the mild kick in the chicken spice mix. The ONLY thing I would do is swap the breast for thighs, but the flavor and process on this one awards this recipe an A+. A wonderful surprise, the perfect meal post-workout, and a pleasure to prepare.
Thanks for another fun and surprising box of dinners, Blue Apron!