The business of meal home delivery service seems to be thriving. Public interest in food is ever-growing, and while that is often manifested by people eating out or watching others cook on TV, some are genuinely interested in getting their hands dirty. And sometimes they just don’t know where to start. This seems to have fueled the creation of a number of new companies that deliver hand-picked weekly recipes along with nearly all the required ingredients for several home-cooked meals. Do you have trouble keeping your pantry, fridge and freezer consistently stocked? Have you discovered at times that you have four different types of bread but no protein? Overwhelmed by all the choices in the supermarket? Feel stumped by the 15 steps of instructions in a recipe? No worries, we have it all worked out for you.
I may not fall precisely within their target audience, as I do plan ahead for meals, I love grocery shopping, and I have binders and bookcases full of recipes to serve as starting points. But listen to what they are promising – proper quantities of produce, meat, grains, etc. to create precisely 3 meals for precisely two people (or 4 people, or 6 people) per meal – sounds efficient, right? Fits right in with my philosophy, right? So, when the opportunity came to try HelloFresh at a discounted price (AmazonLocal deal), I decided it was my duty to give it a try.
These plastic bags are solid–I tried and failed to rip them open by hand. Only scissors would do.
My three meals were Sautéed Trout with Radicchio & Oranges, Beef and Noodle Soup in Soy Sauce Broth, and Creamy Penne with Edamame, Chicken and Crimini Mushrooms. Since fresh fish spoils the fastest, I decided to start with that.
Sauteed Trout with Radicchio & Oranges
adapted from HelloFresh
Serves: more than 2!
2 trout fillets
Salt and peper
Radicchio & Oranges:
1 small head radicchio, thinly sliced
1 oz pecan halves, toasted
2 oz goat cheese
1 Tablesoon olive oil
Rice & Sweet Potato:
1 chicken stock cube and 2 Cups of water,
OR 2 Cups chicken stock (would taste better)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Cup basmati rice
Salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons of chives, finely chopped
Begin preparing the rice, before all the chopping: take 2 medium saucepans. In one, put the stock cube into a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and dissolve the cube. Or, heat 2 cups chicken stock. Heat the second pan over medium-high heat and toast the pecans, shaking frequently, about 5 minutes until fragrant. This can also be done in a oven at 350 degrees, if watching very carefully. Remove pecans and chop when cool. Set aside.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and add rice, cooking for 1 minute over medium heat. Add stock to the pan with the rice with a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook, covered, for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, get those sweet potatoes, radicchio and chives chopped.
Doesn’t it look like I have way more radicchio and chives than I need? Also, in their picture on the recipe, it all fit on one cutting board.. mine is running out of space!
After 5 minutes, add the chopped sweet potato to the rice and cook, covered, for 10 more minutes.
Remove from heat and let sit for 5 minutes with the lid on.
Prepare the radicchio and orange: slice the ends (the poles) off of 1 orange. Carefully follow the curve of the fruit to cut away the peel and white pith. While holding the orange over a medium bowl, cut along both sides of each membrane to remove the segments into the bowl. Juice the other orange into the bowl. Add the radicchio, crumbled goat cheese, toasted chopped pecans, and 1 Tablesoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Season the trout with salt and pepper. Heat 1 Tablespoon of olive oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. When hot, cook the trout, skin-side down, 3-4 minutes until golden brown. Don’t try to turn it early or disaster will ensue! Carefully flip and cook the other side for less than 3 minutes, until the trout is cooked through and flakes easily.
Do you see how much trout this is?
On the plate, either place the radicchio salad underneath or on top of the trout fillets (it is supposed to be trout THEN vegetables…whoops I, I misread that). Sprinkle with chives. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve on the side.
Looking back, I’m pretty embarrassed about the appearance of my chives in this picture. To be fair, later in the week I realized that my knife was in desperate need of honing (it makes a big difference) Also, this is what happens when you are rushing and trying to use only the corner of space left on the cutting board!
I prepared this dish on a time crunch, somewhat intentionally, because I thought that the prearrangement of ingredients would translate to speedier prep. Unfortunately, the chopping took quite some time. I had my plate of food ready in 45 minutes.
I love trout. I don’t love bitter radicchio, but it is more than tolerable with delicious goat cheese, sweet orange, and crunchy pecan–indeed, I have taken this approach before when radicchio appeared in my farm share. The rice was very blah and boring. It tasted like the salt and pepper I added to it–not impressive. I encourage creative additions….cumin, cinnamon, cayenne pepper perhaps? Not only did I have bland rice, but I had CUPS of leftover bland rice, after serving two people dinner! There was also radicchio salad a-plenty (of course, my husband doesn’t eat that).
Let’s evaluate HelloFresh overall. First of all, I have serious questions about their process for testing recipes. Every recipe I received was far from fool-proof. For example, the quantities of the ingredients they gave me for the Beef and Noodle Soup were way off. Though the recipe simply said to use “one thumb of ginger,” the hunk of ginger they provided was clearly too much for a recipe for two, so I guessed about a tablespoon and a half; also, there was almost no broth once everything was added together so I had to add water. Yet, even with my tweaks, the resulting dish had a pretty interesting and complex flavor, with the different components. The creamy pasta was delicious, though simple. Cooking the chicken was time-consuming — I would have been happy to have it as a vegetarian meal. As for value: the full price comes to about $11.50 per meal. I don’t think that is exorbitant, because quality meat and fish like this are expensive. It’s true, one would have a hard time finding a complete and filling meal made from such “fresh” ingredients at $11.50. However, it required me to do all of the work, and all the dishes too. Moreover, I was misled to believe that the food I was making would feed two people – no waste.
I’m encouraged by this idea of ingredients portioned for recipes. It looks like for now, though,
I’m going to stick toI prefer shopping for myself and buying the quantities available in stores, and discovering creative ways to use everything up.
Hello Fresh Rating (sample size of 1, on a scale of 1-5):
Ingredients (freshness): 4
Recipe accuracy (quantities, ratios): 2
Recipe uniqueness: 4
Accuracy of portion sizing: 2