By Veronica Chavez
Photos by Veronica Chavez.
A few weeks ago a close friend of mine gave me a free voucher to try out a food-delivery service called Blue Apron. She had recently become obsessed with the company, something I had already deduced since all of her Instagram food pictures had #blueapron in the caption.
As she explained to me how the process worked, I quickly saw how the convenience would be appealing. Blue Apron delivers fresh ingredients and recipes for three full meals right to your door in addition to having an entire website dedicated to teaching you the cooking techniques needed for the recipes.
Considering I love to cook, I decided to give it a try. I logged onto Blue Apron’s website and began entering my food preferences. Sadly, there was no “vegan” option present in the Dietary Restrictions portion, so I checked “vegetarian” off instead.
Instantly, I was presented with a page full of delicious-looking meal options. Upon closer inspection, however, I noticed that most of the recipes contained cheese, butter, or eggs. Furthermore, when I pictured these dishes without the non-vegan ingredients, they seemed rather dull.
Mozzarella and barley-stuffed zucchini and brown and butternut squash gnocchi with ricotta do not sound like they would be terribly good without the dairy components. Nonetheless, free food is free food so I decided to schedule the delivery.
A few days later, my package arrived with the ingredients for three meals: Huevos Rancheros; Hearty Sweet Potato, BroccolI, and Quinoa Salad; and Paneer & Vegetable Kati Rolls. Here’s how they went:
Before I began following a vegan diet, Mexican-inspired breakfast dishes were one of my favorite things to order at brunch. When I turned vegan, I made it a point to figure out a way to make my own version of these dishes sans meat and animal byproducts. The solution? Zesty tofu scramble.
And so, I set aside Blue Apron’s farm-fresh eggs and instead made tofu scramble seasoned with salt, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and turmeric. I still used the pinto beans, avocado, red onions, and corn tortillas Blue Apron sent me for the dish, and simply left out the Oaxaca cheese. I think the tofu scramble was the perfect substitution for the sunny-side up eggs, and is an easy way to make the dish vegan.
Hearty Sweet Potato, Broccoli, and Quinoa Salad
Seeing that quinoa and broccoli are two food items I use constantly, I was not surprised at how easy and delicious this dish turned out to be. The sweet potato and sunflower seeds were a nice addition, and will definitely be added to my grocery list for future trips. The only ingredients I left out were goat cheese and the lemon-tahini dressing. Instead I enjoyed the dish with some hummus and lemon, as I usually do for quinoa bowls.
Paneer and Vegetable Kati Rolls
This Indian dish was the most difficult to turn vegan. Blue Apron sent me paneer (homemade cheese) and Greek yogurt to use in the dish, both ingredients vital to the meal. After reading over the recipe and seeing that the yogurt was the only component that would keep the rolls intact, I decided to abandon the recipe completely and simply take the ingredients I could use: fingerling potatoes and cucumber. I boiled the potatoes and sliced the cucumbers and ended up making more of a light snack, which I paired with my favorite vegan ranch dressing. Perhaps if I had purchased vegan yogurt ahead of time I could have made this dish as instructed.
While I was pleasantly surprised by how easily I made two out of three of these dishes vegan-friendly, I still wouldn’t particularly recommend Blue Apron to any of my vegan friends. When I sifted through the site for meal options, it took quite a while to find dishes that sounded like they would even turn out remotely good without the dairy ingredients. Hopefully sometime soon, Blue Apron will cater to more specific diets.