Arugula Pesto Meatball and Mozzarella Panini
Arugula Pesto Meatball and Mozzarella Panini

I’m a naturally skeptical person. That quality serves me well pretty frequently, but sometimes, it means I miss out on something great because I’m afraid it’s too good to be true. Because of this trait of mine, I’ve gotten pretty good at admitting when I’m wrong.

So, here we go: I was totally wrong about Blue Apron.

If you’ve never heard of it before, Blue Apron is a meal delivery service—you sign up for the service, pick your recipes, and then a box shows up on your doorstep packed with all the ingredients you need to cook a delicious dinner with your fam.

Arugula Pesto Meatball and Mozzarella Panini

When I first started hearing about Blue Apron, I was immediately (and, honestly, adamantly) skeptical. The ingredients couldn’t be fresh. What a waste of packaging. The recipes must be boring. This is only for people who can’t cook.

And I continued feeling that way. Even after my friends (and family!) tried it and liked it and raved to me about it. I’m all about growing my own food and cooking from scratch and this is not that! Blue Apron isn’t for someone like me!


And then I got an email from Blue Apron, and they just asked me to try it (for free, admittedly, which helps a lot with getting over the whole skepticism thing). I was really hesitant. REALLY.

But all the rave reviews from people I loved and respect had started to wear on me, and my Blue Apron walls were wearing down—so I decided I had nothing to lose by just trying it out. My first box showed up, I opened it up, and I was done from the second I flipped the flaps. I would have eaten a giant helping of crow, but I was too busy fawning over the fresh ingredients and crazy creative recipes. I love Blue Apron, and I don’t care who knows it!

Arugula Pesto Meatball and Mozzarella Panini

I’ve now gone through two boxes (four total recipes), and each of them have been creative, fresh, healthy, and flippin’ delicious. Let me tell you exactly why I’m so in love with Blue Apron:

  • Customizable—Each week, my husband and I log in to the Blue Apron website and pick the meals we want delivered. You can eat vegetarian if you want. Or have all kid-friendly foods. You can eat fancy pants recipes with ingredients you’d never try otherwise. Or eat burgers and pizza. You can make your box your own.
  • A Good Shortcut—Since becoming a parent, I’ve really embraced the philosophy of doing what you can, with what you have, when you have it. And, let’s be honest, sometimes we don’t have time to get to the store or find new recipes (especially since we live 45 minutes from a grocery store). Blue Apron is SUCH a good shortcut. To have fresh, healthy, real food just show up your door is a game changer when the time crunch is on.
  • A Rockin’ Recycling Program—One of my biggest hesitations with Blue Apron was the waste factor. Tons of packaging wasted just for the sake of convenience. What I didn’t know was that Blue Apron has an amazing recycling program. You can literally ship back all your packaging (for free) to Blue Apron and they take care of the rest. You just print the label from your online account.
  • Inspiring—Food ruts are the woooorrssstttt. Even though food is my job, I get into them all the time. When I’m not cooking for the blog, we have a series of recipes we just rotate through, like our family favorite Taco Turkey Chili. Blue Apron has really opened our eyes to new ingredients, new methods, and new dishes. And they list all their recipes on the website, so you can remake any dishes you love.
  • Sustainable Ingredients—I was really afraid my Blue Apron box was going to be filled with lower-quality ingredients, but I was super happy to find wild caught seafood, organic dairy, and sustainably-grown produce. The contents of the box were exactly like what I’d buy in the store myself.
  • It’s Just Fun!—C’mon. If you love food, getting a box of ingredients to make a brand new recipe is a blast. I don’t think I realized just how fun it was going to be, but we all get excited when the box shows up at our door.

Arugula Pesto Meatball and Mozzarella Panini

Arugula Pesto Meatball and Mozzarella Panini

Of course, I can’t 100% put my skeptical side away—there are a few things that weren’t perfect about Blue Apron.

First up, from a gardener’s stand point, it felt a little odd for a box to show up in August with tomatoes, basil, and other ingredients that were literally growing outside my back door. I think, for me, I’d prefer to use Blue Apron outside of the growing season—it just seems redundant to have someone deliver me the ingredients that I’m growing already! I actually laughed when I unpacked a single egg from the box about five minutes after I had collected eight from our hens.

The biggest issue I think we had was with portion sizes—they never felt consistent. Each recipe we made was suppose to serve four, but a few of the recipes felt like they barely served two and still others felt like they could serve six. For the smaller portion sizes, we felt like we had to up the volume of the meal by adding extra veggies or a salad. For the bigger serving sizes, we were happy to have leftovers for the next day, but since some folks are leftover-averse, I know that wouldn’t be a great option for everyone.

My last criticism is that none of the recipes I’ve tried have been particularly speedy to make. That’s not the point of the recipes—after all, one of the cornerstones of Blue Apron is getting the family all together and cooking in the kitchen as an event (which I love!). They say that all their recipes can be made in under 40 minutes, but I found many of them closer to an hour (maybe because I was cooking with a toddler underfoot). If you’re planning on using this to replace regular menu planning and grocery shopping, you’ll need to be aware that you’ll have to commit a bit more time.

Arugula Pesto Meatball and Mozzarella Panini

And that’s it. Everything else about Blue Apron is total love for me. All that hub-bub thinking Blue Apron wasn’t for me, and now I’m a total convert. I think what I like most about Blue Apron is how you can use it in different ways depending on what you need.

For us, it’s a fun luxury to have show up at our door every now and again. For others, maybe they don’t have access to a grocery store (or time to get to one). For others, maybe they’re just learning to cook and Blue Apron is a great way to get their feet wet. For others, maybe it’s a way to try out new recipes before putting them into a weekly rotation. Because you can cancel at any time and skip weeks at anytime, you can make Blue Apron work for you and your family.

Arugula Pesto Meatball and Mozzarella Panini

Alright, enough of me publicly eating crow. Time for me to talk about these paninis! These were our absolute favorite Blue Apron recipe we’ve tried so far. They were totally different from anything we’ve ever made before. They were super fun to put together, and we gobbled them up. I don’t love arugula, so I was really hesitant to try a panini with arugula pesto on it, but in this dish, it totally works!

I did make a few tweaks to the original Blue Apron recipe to satisfy our family—I added more garlic (ALWAYS) and added a bunch of fresh basil to the pesto because we had it. I also hollowed out the bread to make more room for the meatballs. Below you’ll find Blue Apron’s original recipe—feel free to make my tweaks if you end up making it. Enjoy!

Arugula Pesto Meatball and Mozzarella Paninis

Arugula Pesto Meatball and Mozzarella Paninis

Yield: 4 sandwiches
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

In this exciting take on meatball subs, we’re turning the deliciously saucy sandwiches into warm, crispy paninis.


  • 1⅛ Pounds Ground Beef
  • 1 Farm Egg
  • 4 Sandwich Rolls
  • 4 Ounces Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
  • 4 Ounces Arugula
  • 1 Clove Garlic
  • 1 Yellow Onion
  • ⅓ Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
  • ¼ Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese


  1. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel and finely chop the garlic; using the flat side of your knife, smash until it resembles a paste (or use a zester). Peel and small dice the onion. Small dice the mozzarella cheese. Halve the rolls.
  2. In a large pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the arugula; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until bright green and wilted. Transfer to a cutting board and finely chop. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the Parmesan cheese. Slowly stir in enough olive oil to create a rough paste; season with salt and pepper to taste. Wipe out the pan.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, onion, breadcrumbs, egg and remaining garlic paste; season with salt and pepper. Gently mix to combine. Using your hands, form the mixture into 24 to 26 equal-sized meatballs; transfer to a plate. In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the meatballs; cook, turning occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes, or until browned on all sides and cooked through. Transfer to the bowl of pesto and toss to coat. Rinse and wipe out the pan.
  4. Add the mozzarella cheese to the bowl of pesto meatballs; toss to thoroughly combine and season with salt and pepper to taste. Place the rolls on a clean, dry work surface, cut sides up. Divide the pesto meatballs and cheese between the roll bottoms; season with salt and pepper. Complete the paninis with the roll tops.
  5. In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the paninis; place a heavy pot or pan on top to press them down. Cook, occasionally pressing down on the pot, 3 to 5 minutes per side, or until the rolls are lightly browned and the mozzarella cheese has melted. (If the pan seems dry, add 2 teaspoons of olive oil before flipping the paninis.) Transfer to a cutting board and halve on an angle.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 sandwiches Serving Size: 1 sandwich
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 672Total Fat: 34gSaturated Fat: 14gTrans Fat: 1gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 187mgSodium: 796mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 3gSugar: 3gProtein: 51g

At Wholefully, we believe that good nutrition is about much more than just the numbers on the nutrition facts panel. Please use the above information as only a small part of what helps you decide what foods are nourishing for you.

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  1. Thanks so much for sharing this! I’m definitely a big Blue Apron skeptic (Can’t people go to the supermarket? Isn’t it cheaper to buy a whole package of something – like eggs – then a single one?) but I really appreciate hearing some positives from someone who shares a lot of my views. The Blue Apron recycling program definitely makes me feel a lot better about the whole thing. The cost still seems really high to me, but maybe someday I’ll give it a try too!

  2. Umm…. I’ll be over tonight for dinner. These look amazing!!!! And I love all the pictures with YOU in them. Great post. I’m dying to try Blue Apron, I can’t get so many things in the middle of no where. I think it would be a good option for me!