It is unfortunate that we, as a culture, have become too busy for simple errands, like running to the store to grab dinner. Even those who appreciate the beauty of food often skip over the opportunity to peruse the produce section for seasonal vegetables and then drive over to the butcher shop to choose a fresh cut of meat. Who has time for that? Our jobs have become the priority, leaving us exhausted by the end of the day. Regrettably, as a result, home-cooked family meals have taken a back seat to fast food or, if you’re being healthy, rotisserie chicken and bagged lettuce. We are not excited to cook any longer because we simply cannot make the time.
Meal-kit services have capitalized on this phenomenon, providing their subscribers with recipes and the exact ingredients needed to make dinner. The only shopping they have to do is online, which is where they spend a majority of their free time anyway, let’s be honest (myself included). The process is simple:
- Go to a meal-kit company’s website (examples: Hello Fresh or Blue Apron)
- Choose what meal(s) tickle(s) your fancy
- Decide how many servings you need
- Pay a pretty penny
- Wait a few days for a box to arrive at your doorstep
- Open the box, then remove the ingredients and recipe card
- Cook the meal by following the instructions on the card
- Eat and be merry
Companies like Blue Apron, Plated, Home Chef, and Hello Fresh have provided families with an ideal option; hearty meals with fresh ingredients, delivered to their door, thus eliminating the chore of grocery shopping. After taste testing and reviewing all of these companies, I decided to evaluate some of the newer meal-kit services, like Peach Dish (click for website).
The farm to table movement has swept over food communities. Far too often restaurants feature over-priced pretentious menus, making local fare unapproachable for the average person. Peach Dish, an Atlanta based meal-kit delivery service, partners with Southern suppliers to provide its patrons with farm to table meals, made in their own home, at practical prices. What makes them special is that they “provide wholesome ingredients sourced from local farmers and artisans”.
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peach dish details
|Price (one meal)||
|Serving Options||Serves 2 to 12 people|
Each meal was separated in a lavender organza bag, drawn with a ribbon. Inside, ingredients were pre-portioned and packaged separately, with labels. The only draw back was that each bag was not labeled with the meal’s title, therefore causing the home chef to make an educated guess as to which kit went with a particular recipe. The produce was fresh and I was impressed with the generous portions of basil, parsley and pecorino Romano in the Puttanesca Orecchiette recipe. Other food delivery companies only provided a pinch of this and a bit of that, forcing me to leave it out of the recipe just so I had enough to garnish the final photograph.
Each recipe is provided in a card-stock pamphlet. A final photo and the recipe’s title is on the front, while nutritional facts, social media information and a “meet the chef” piece is on the back. Learning about the chef pairs the home cook with the bigger picture; their food is not manufactured in some factory, but carefully conceptualized by a qualified professional.
Inside the pamphlet is the recipe with ingredients and measurements so that home cooks can make this meal multiple times. This is a feature unique to Peach Dish, as the other food delivery companies list what is in the box, but not in an easy-to-read reusable recipe format. The cooking method section offers step-by-step directions with photographs of each step. The format is easy to follow. As far as cooking is concerned, Peach Dish subscribers only need basic knife skills and cooking knowledge to make these recipes. For those who aren’t as confident in the kitchen, don’t worry, boiling a pot of water, chopping mushrooms and sauteing meat in a pan is as difficult as it gets. Lastly, ingredients that are not included in the kit are identified with an asterisk (*). These items can include, but are not limited to, olive oil, salt and pepper.
the taste test
This was a basic hearty meal that looked gorgeous served in the pan. The fatty beef, earthly mushrooms, roasted red peppers and sweet tomatoes melded together, creating a comforting classic.
Some ingredients worth talking about are the arugula and mushrooms. The fresh mushroom mix included whole Shiitake mushrooms, which are our favorite. The recipe called for roughly chopping the mushrooms, however I chose to slice them in order to maintain their beauty. This is the second pasta recipe in a month that called for wilted arugula. It has opened my eyes to this green leaf! I never realized that this bitter veg would cook like spinach and compliment meals like this. In the past I would have equated arugula to lettuce and lettuce is disgusting when cooked. Arugula is going to be my go to mix-in green for a quick pop of color and flavor.
Lastly, the ground beef was to be sauteed in the pan, but I chose to make it into meatballs, which browned to golden perfection. Serving-wise, as you can see this dish filled a medium-frying pan, which was an ample amount of food for the two of us. (The block of pecorino romano photographed was not included in the kit. I purchased it for half price at Whole Foods the day before.)
A Common Connoisseur’s Rendition
- 6 oz. fettuccine
- 8 oz. ground beef
- 6 oz. mixed mushrooms, sliced
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 oz. roasted red peppers, sliced into strips
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp. Italian spices
- 1/2 diced tomatoes, in juice
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 2 handfuls of baby arugula
- olive oil (for sauteing)
- Boil a pot of water, adding a pinch of salt to the pot. Once boiling, add the fettuccine. Cook until al dente. Before draining, reserve 1 cup of the pasta water for later.
- Place meat in a medium bowl. Add 2 garlic cloves (minced), 2 tbsp. of Parmesan cheese, 1 tbsp. Italian spices and a pinch of salt to the meat. Mix well with your hands. Roll into 1-inch meatballs.
- Heat a large saute pan over medium heat; add 2 teaspoons of olive oil. When oil shimmers, place the meatballs in the pan in one layer (Do not overcrowd the pan. Cook is batches if necessary). Cook for 2-3 minutes without turning, once the heated side is golden brown, turn the meatballs. Repeat until all sides are golden brown. Remove the meatballs and set aside.
- Add more olive oil to the pan. Now saute the mushrooms and onions for 5-6 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes, 2 cloves of garlic (minced), 1 tbsp. Italian spices, red peppers, and 1 cup of pasta water (this binds the pasta to the sauce). Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add the pasta and meatballs to the sauce and stir together.
- Remove pan from heat and add arugula and remaining Parmesan cheese. Season with salt.
- Eat and Enjoy!
Puttanesca, an easy sauce, briefly cooked, and is very fragrant and spicy. In Italian, it is short for alla puttanesca, literally meaning in the style of a prostitute. Historical rumors tell us that this was a quick and easy pasta sauce for the puttanas to make in between customers, hence the name puttanesca.
Peach Dish honored the Italian sauce’s legacy of being quick and simple, with bold pungent flavors. Crushed red pepper was used to raise the heat. Peach Dish even added an extra bag for those that like it molto caldo. The fiery tomato sauce was sweetened with turbinado sugar and topped with briny green olives, that cut through the heat. The dish was topped with aromatic basil and Italian parsley, adding a bite of freshness.
I was impressed with amount of shaved pecorino romano cheese and herbs that were provided. Far too often, these meal-kits offer just enough to make the dish, but Peach Dish went over and above a sprinkle of cheese and a bit of basil. As far as servings, they were filling, but I could have used a side salad to break up the heat (the picture above does not reflect a full serving.)
A Common Connoisseur’s Rendition
- 6 oz. dried orecchiette pasta
- 2 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 1 shallot, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomato with juice
- 1/4 c. green olives, sliced in half
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1 1/2 oz. shaved pecornio romano cheese
- 2 sprigs basil, sliced
- 1 sprig Italian parsley
- olive oil, salt and pepper
- Boil a pot of water, adding a pinch of salt to the pot. Once boiling, add the orecchiette. Cook until al dente. Before draining, reserve 1/4 cup of the pasta water for later.
- While pasta is cooking, place a large sauce pot over medium heat. Add olive oil to glaze over the bottom of the pan. Once shimmering, add shallot, red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook for 4-5 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes with juice, olives, sugar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Once sauce is simmering, reduce heat to medium-low. Cook for 10 minutes. Add salt as needed.
- Add the drained pasta water and pasta and cook to combine for 3 minutes.
- Plate and garnish with basil, parsley and cheese. Enjoy!
the final say
Peach Dish is much like the others (Blue Apron, Plated, Home Chef and Hello Fresh), in that they provide fresh ingredients and chef-inspired recipes to assist busy folks in making convenient meals at home. Yet it also has some differences. For example, Peach Dish, Home Chef and Plated allow subscribers to choose their own meals, whereas Blue Apron and Hello Fresh choose for them, allowing them to change the choices after purchasing.
Some special features unique to Peach Dish are on their website, where they offer quality information on “Goodies” that they sell and “Suppliers” that they partner with. The “Suppliers” page shows the intricate relationship between vendors and Peach Dish. Each supplier page has a map, story, website link and pictures of the featured product. Customers can learn about where their produce, meats and grains come from, connecting them to the bigger picture. This emulates the true farm to table movement. Additionally, a flyer listing the food producers and their region is placed in each box. What a great way to show appreciation and support their businesses as well. The “Goodies” page displays the virtual Peach Dish store, where patrons can purchase Southern cookbooks, artisan-crafted jams, treats, meats and pantry accouterments. Peach Dish sent us some goodies from their store, such as two Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts from Kent’s Country Cookies store. They were the perfect cookie, thick, buttery, crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside. The goodie bag also contained two delicious apples from Beech Creek Orchard. I enjoyed the local treats as a thoughtful and unexpected surprise!
To be honest, Peach Dish offers simple and basic recipes that may not be enticing to those (like me) seeking a culinary adventure. Even with a quick glance at Plated, for example, I was intrigued by meals like Lemongrass Pork with Long Life Noodles and Pan-Roasted Red Fish. These are ingredients that I may not use regularly and would be eager to try under the safety net of a sure-fire recipe provided by this company. As for Peach Dish, all eight choices for the three-featured weeks appeared underwhelming. The two pasta dishes we chose seemed to be the most compelling of all the choices at the time. Yet, they too were just straightforward. As I look now at the weeks to come, I see Shiro Miso Ramen with Soft-Cooked Egg, Mushrooms, Carrot & Shiso, which looks delicious, and Gnocchi with Chicken, Kale, Green Garlic and Lemon, which looks fun. Unfortunately the three weeks displayed for us were not as exciting.
Additionally, displaying a three-week menu is a great feature, allowing customers to plan ahead. However, Peach Dish uses four of the same seasonal recipes for several weeks. So if you don’t like the options, you are out of luck for the next few weeks for at least half of the meals. That being said, if you are looking for humble (non intimidating) seasonal recipes, Peach Dish is a good option for you.
Of the five different food delivery companies and fourteen different meals I have had, Peach Dish served two meal kits that were not labeled. Don’t get me wrong, the ingredients were labeled within the two bags, however each bag was not labeled. This leaves the home cook to make an educated guess as to which bag went with the provided recipes. Since the goal is convenience, a simple label on each bag stating the meal’s title, would be helpful. This is what the other companies did and I did not appreciate it until it was absent. Also the meat was tucked in a foil bag at the bottom of the box. This resembled an ice pack, being that it was non-transparent and placed at the bottom of the box. I searched for the meat inside each meal-kit bag and found it much later after triple-checking the box. I would suggest that Peach Dish label the outside of the foil wrap so that customers know there is something inside. Trust me, I know it sounds silly that the meat stumped me, but I have participated in 5 different food delivery companies and never “lost” the meat. Since I had trouble finding it, others may as well. Extra labels will solve the issue.
Below is a pricing table that may help you in your decision.
|Company Name||Prices: Three meals for 2 people|
|Hello Fresh||$69.00 (omnivores)
In conclusion, Peach Dish offers farm to table, seasonal fare that is sourced from local Southern suppliers. The price for three meals that serve two people is the second highest compared to the above popular food delivery companies. The meals were flavorful but common, compared to Plated or Blue Apron that offer unique ingredients. Again, I understand that this is more of a preference and some customers may want to cook familiar fare. The ingredients were fresh and bountiful, reflecting the harvest from the suppliers that Peach Dish partners with. They offer a Superfood series, pampering the health conscious foodie. Also, Peach Dish provides the largest servings, catering to families up to 12 people, whereas other companies, like Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, serve families of 4 at the most.
Since Peach Dish has many similarities (easy preparation, several meal options, quality ingredients and convenience) to the other companies, I would say that it is a good option if you have already tried Home Chef and Hello Fresh (the top two options in my opinion).
Please do not hesitate to leave a comment about your experiences with meal-kit companies and more specifically, Peach Dish.
I give Peach Dish