Meal Kit Hack: Blue Apron’s Fusilli Bucati Pasta with Summer Squash, Corn, & Tomatoes + Recipe

Rating 8/10

My vegan daughter is into zucchini. She only recently discovered it (i.e. was willing to give it a try) and now she can’t get enough. I made her pasta with zucchini the other day, by just winging it, but tonight I decided to actually shop for and follow a recipe. I decided on this Blue Apron recipe for Fusilli Bucati Pasta with Summer Squash, Corn, & Tomatoes because it was simple and easy to “veganize”.

I did, of course, make some changes to the recipe – as you can see by ingredient list below. Instead of fusilli, I used rigattoni pasta. I prefer to give my kids chickpea pasta, rather than wheat pasta, as it has more fiber and protein – and Grocery Outlet, my closest grocery store, didn’t have chickpea fusilli. I used more garlic and more corn than what came in the Blue Apron kit because it was so recommended by the people who commented on the recipe. I used zucchini instead of summer squash as we’re still in winter and cherry tomatoes because they were easy to find. And I used
Romano/Parmesan/Asiago cheese mix because that’s what I had at home – though instead of adding it to the pan, I served it on the side. I did the same with the butter. That way, both my vegan and my non-vegan daughters were happy. Finally, I used basil instead of parsley because several reviewers said basil worked best.

My kids were very happy. My oldest daughter liked it as much as any meal kit I’d ever bought – and while the youngest didn’t like the tomatoes (she’s currently anti-tomato), she just picked them out. The kids particularly liked the corn, which added crunch and sweetness to the dish. Next time I’ll experiment with using other types of tomatoes to see what work best for both girls.

In all, I spent $9 to make this recipe – a significant saving over the $20 it would have cost if I bought it from Blue Apron. This includes the price of the ingredients I had to buy in larger quantity than needed (e.g. the pasta and corn, which they only had packaged by four cobs), but not of the items I had at home.

Blue Apron IngredientsMy IngredientsCost
½ lb Fusilli Bucati Pasta½ lb chickpea rigattoni pasta$2
2 cloves garlic3 cloves garlicpantry
1 ear corn2 ears corn$4
1 Summer Squash1 Zucchini$1
½ lb Heritage Globe Or Cocktail Tomatoes10 oz cherry tomatoes$2
¼ tsp Crushed Red Pepper FlakesskippedN/A
2 Tbsps Butter2 tsp butterpantry
2 Tbsps Grated Pecorino CheeseRomano/Parmesan/Asiago cheese mixpantry
1 bunch Parsley6 basil leavesgarden

Pasta with Zucchini, Corn, & Tomatoes

This recipe feeds four, it doubles the recipe in the kit.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb pasta of your choice
  • 4 ears of corn
  • 1 lb cherry tomatoes, halved
  • salt & pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Zucchini, cut in 1/3″ thick half moons
  • 6 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch basil leaves, coarsely chopped
  • butter to taste (optional)
  • Grated cheese to taste (optional)

Directions

Put a pot of salted water to boil. When ready, add the pasta and cook until al dente.

Meanwhile, cut corn kernels off the cob and discard cob and silks. Season halved tomatoes with salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large saute pan. When hot, add the zucchini slices all in one layer and fry until brown, 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add corn and garlic and stir fry for two minutes. Add the tomatoes, season, and stir fry for another minute. Turn down heat to low. Mix in half of the chopped basil.

Once the pasta is ready, drain, reserving 3/4 cup of cooking liquid. Add pasta to the vegetables and mix. Add the cooking liquid and cook over medium-low heat for a few minutes, or until the water boils off.

Transfer to serving plate(s) and sprinkle remaining basil on top. Served accompanied by butter and cheese.



Hakka Tofu with Mushrooms

I was making Soy-braised Chicken and Mushrooms for my family, as part of my exploration of Hakka cuisine, and decided to try making it with tofu for my vegetarian daughter.  She liked it well enough, though did mention that the tofu didn’t quite absorb the broth and she didn’t think it was as flavorful as she’d liked. Perhaps seitan would be a better bet for this dish.

Ingredients

  • 6 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 cups hot water
  • 1 Tbsps. vegetable oil
  • 1″ fresh ginger, peeled and thinly slivered
  • 1 Tbsps. minced garlic
  • 1 lb extra-firm tofu
  • 2 Tbsp kecap manis
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 2 greens onions, including green tops, cut in 2″ lengths

Directions

Soak dried mushrooms in hot water for 20 minutes to 2 hours. Remove mushrooms from the water, reserving both.  Squeeze out extra water from mushrooms, and cut mushrooms in half. Strain the water through a fine mesh to catch the sediment. Set both water and mushrooms aside.

Heat oil over high heat in a wok. Add ginger and garlic and stir fry until the garlic starts to brown. Add tofu and stir fry for a couple of minutes. Add the mushrooms and the mushroom water. Add the kecap manis. Bring to a boil, then bring down heat to low, cover the wok and simmer until the tofu is warmed through, about five minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, remove tofu and mushrooms from the pan and set aside. Bring heat to high and reduce cooking liquid until it’s about half a cup. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add the green onions. Return tofu and mushrooms to the broth, warm if necessary, and then serve.

 


Tofu Ropa Vieja

I made Ropa Vieja for dinner tonight, one of my old-time favorites, and decided to serve the same thing to my vegetarian daughter.  She was quite happy with the results. Really, all I did was make the sauce, reserve some of it before I added the beef, add some vegetable base and tofu.  She was happy and I was happy I was able to feed her.  I’m sure you can substitute another meat substitute for tofu, but that’s what I had at home.  I always serve this with fresh sourdough bread.

Tofu Ropa Vieja

Ingredients

  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onions, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cups tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp vegetable base
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 lb extra-firm tofu, cubed

Directions

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a medium sauce pan.  Add the onion and garlic and cook until they start to caramelize.  Add the bell pepper and cook until soft.  Add the tomato sauce, wine, bay leaf and vegetable base.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes.  Uncover, and the tofu cubes and cook for another 15 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and serve.


Tofu Marsala

Tonight I made chicken Marsala for Mike and I and adapted the recipe so that Mika, my vegetarian daughter, could have it with tofu.  Really, all it took to adapt it was to use a separate pan to cook the chicken and substitute tofu for the chicken.  But here it is in case she ever wants to make it herself.  It was truly delicious.

  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 8 oz button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tbsp Marsala wine
  • 1 1/2 tsp vegetable base
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2/3 cup whipping cream
  • 1 lb extra firm tofu, sliced
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • dash of dried or chopped sage
  • salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter over medium heat in a frying pan.  Add the shallot and cook for one minute.  Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates.  Set aside.

Bring Marsala wine to a boil in a medium size sauce pan.  Boil for 30 seconds and then add vegetable base, water, whipping cream and reserved mushrooms.  Comine and cook over low heat for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, pan-fry tofu slices.

When sauce is ready, add the remaining 2 Tbsp Marsala wine, the lemon juice and the sage. Stir and taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary.  Serve the pan-friend tofu with the sauce.


Chickpea Milanesas Recipe

My oldest daughter is a vegetarian, so I try to find vegetarian equivalents of the meals with eat.  I’m not eager to make two meals, so the easier the vegetarian version can be, the better.  This version for chickpea milanesas qualifies as easy.  She likes them well enough that I’ve already made them four times.

Chickpea Milanesas

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley flakes or chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • Italian-style breadcrumbs
  • olive oil for frying
  • lemon juice

Using an electric blender, puree chickpeas and water together.  Mix in the flour, spices and salt and pepper.

Put breadcrumbs in a large plate.  Four your hands.  Take a large spoonfull of batter and flatten it using your hands.  Press onto the breadcrumbs, then turn and repeat.  Repeat with the rest of the batter.

Heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Using a spatula, transfer the milanesas onto the oil and fry for a couple of minutes until golden. Turn and repeat. Remove and drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle with lemon juice before serving.

Marga’s Best Recipes


On Vegetarianism

lisasimpsonMy 13-yo daughter wrote the following speech to give to her 8th grade English class.  While I continue to eat (guiltily) eat meat, I am extremely proud of her.

In 2014, 30,170 innocent cows were brutally murdered in slaughterhouses, for YOU to eat your steak, hamburgers, hotdogs, etc. 8,666,662 little chickens were slaughtered for your chicken nuggets. 106,876 sweet, adorable pigs were killed for your bacon. You may not care, to you animals may simply be meaningless, their only purpose being your food. But they’re not. Why are some animals okay to eat, and not others? Why would you happily eat a pig, or cow, but the thought of eating a cat or dog is terrible?

In 2014, I stopped eating meat. 6-9 months before that I had stopped eating all meat except chicken. I honestly have no clue why I thought it was alright to eat to eat chicken. But, I did stop. Why did I stop eating chicken? A Bones episode. It depicted a warehouse full of chickens, each of them given less than a foot of space to live. It depicted baby chicks getting their beaks cut off, because when they got older, they’d fight each other, from the stress of not having any room to live. I don’t know if what they showed was true, I haven’t had the heart to research it, not wanting to think about what was truly going on. It was at that moment that I decided I couldn’t stomach the idea of forcing an animal to go through that, so I could eat something, I really didn’t need. The idea of their lives having to end, for them to have to stop existing, for a hamburger or chicken nugget.

I don’t think it was hard to become a vegetarian, maybe it was because I hadn’t eaten cow, or pig in so long, maybe it was because I truly believed that it was just wrong and cruel to eat the carcass of a deceased animal. I think what was harder, was learning later on that there are things I didn’t know about that contain meat. Gelatin is in marshmallows and gummies, it’s made from boiling the tendons, ligaments, bones, and skin of pigs or cows. Lard is pig fat, it’s in a lot of Mexican food, being used to make quesadillas and refried beans. Truthfully, I didn’t know at the beginning, and I’m still finding out about new things that I can’t eat. If you want to count me actually becoming a vegetarian by when I stopped eating gelatin, or lard, fine by me. But I count it as when I decided it was wrong to.

I’m not trying to turn you into a vegetarian, because I know it won’t work. I think I mostly just think everyone should understand what these innocent creatures have to go through for you to eat something, many of you take for granted. And if you start to question your ways, that’s just fabulous.


Lightlife Crispy Gold’n Chik’n Nuggets Review

My 12-yo vegetarian child has been pretty reluctant to try vegetarian frozen entrees. She’s particularly offended by fake meats.  She’s a vegetarian for ethical reasons, and she doesn’t see the point in eating fake animals.  But she probably was tired of eating pasta, so she gave this entree a try.  She was underwhelmed.  She said the chik’n nuggets tasted mostly of potato, but they lacked flavor altogether. They were edible but not enjoyable. She wouldn’t have them again, but she’d eat them if there was nothing else around.