Purple Carrot Vegan Meal Kit Subscription Box Review + Coupon – March 2018
Purple Carrot is a meal kit subscription box that specializes in 100% plant-based vegan dishes. In addition to the standard plan, they also offer a high-protein line called TB12 Performance Meals curated by plant-based pro-athlete Tom Brady!
I’m not a vegan, but I’d say about 70% of what I eat is plant-based. I’d love to increase that percentage, so I’m excited to have Purple Carrot’s help! I’m eager to learn some new recipes that can satisfy my curious palate. Too many salads or basic bowls and I start reaching for the cheese… I’m looking for ways to create savory flavors that I’ll crave just as much as a bowl of mac & cheese or a big, gooey burrito!
To help judge each recipe, I ran it by MSA’s resident vegan Emily! She’s been a vegan for many years, so I was excited to get her perspective, too!
This month’s box is being reviewed thanks to an MSA reader request!
Check out all of our reviews of Meal Delivery Services to see every meal kit subscription box option!
Purple Carrot believes in the healing power of plants, as well as the fact that many plants are less stressful on the environment than meat production. They demonstrate their eco-friendly values in their recyclable boxes and non-toxic ice packs (with recyclable plastic wrapping). Their site states that “the vast majority of our packaging is reusable, recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable.”
My Subscription Addiction paid for this box. (Check out the review process post to learn more about how we review boxes.)
About Purple Carrot Plant-Based Vegan Meal Kit Delivery Service
The Subscription Box: Purple Carrot
The Cost: $12.00 per serving or $72.00 per week
COUPON: Save $20 off your first order with code NEWCARROT!
Good to Know: You can skip or pause shipments so long as you do so by the deadline each week. You can see several weeks worth of menus ahead in your account so you can conveniently set your schedule. Note that unlike other meal kit subscriptions, everyone gets the same three meals each week. (Subscribers can’t pick and choose from several recipes.)
The Products: Everything you need to make three vegan dinners each week! Purple Carrot expects you to have several basic tools and ingredients, including olive oil, salt, and pepper. They supply the rest, plus an easy-to-read recipe card for each meal!
Ships to: Contiguous US
Purple Carrot March 2018 Review
Purple Carrot Falafel with Moroccan Spiced Couscous and Greek Red Sauce
Prep & Cook Time, According to Purple Carrot: 35 minutes
Actual Prep & Cook Time: About 40 minutes
I looove falafel! I lived in New York City for a short time after college and ate falafel for, uh, almost every meal. (The other meals were a mix of Taco Bell, Shake Shack shakes, and Magnolia Cupcakes. Ah, youth…) I’ve never made it myself, though. This falafel lives on a bed of couscous and tomato-based sauce. It’s much more of a sit-down dinner/lunch than a handheld pita sandwich.
My favorite part of this process was making the red sauce. I don’t think my house has smelled that good in… well…. ever! You start the sauce by sauteeing garlic and onion, then add in a kick of cinnamon and oregano. Yowza, is that aroma ever heavenly! Add a can of tomatoes, and you’ve got quite a yummy, thick, delectably hearty sauce.
Oh, so this is something I didn’t care to check when I first signed up. Most meal kits I’ve reviewed in the past require things like pots, pans, a decent knife or two, and a couple of bowls. This subscription box requires a blender/food processor as well. Granted, a lot of plant-based eaters I know do have a food processor in their kitchen, since it’s useful in so many vegan recipes (hummus, soups, creamy treats, etc.). But it definitely took me by surprise!
The falafel patties were surprisingly easy to make. You rehydrate some dried chopped chickpeas, add some other seasonings and ingredients, and blend until smooth. The patties get fried in a bit of oil in a nonstick pan, then slide right on top of the couscous (no photos of that because it’s literally SO simple to make—speaking as a person who accidentally overdoes almost every pot of rice or quinoa I attempt) and red sauce.
I really liked the couscous and red sauce together. That sauce is just soooo flavorful and savory. I could 100% see myself making it again to serve with all sorts of dishes. (I feel like it’d be awesome on top of some eggs or an omelet!) The falafel? Eh. Emily (my die-hard vegan resource) gave the falafel itself a try and we both had the same reaction—a little bland. I added a solid dose of salt and pepper when called for in the recipe, but it wasn’t quite enough. If you try this one, I’d recommend leaning towards being heavy-handed with salt and pepper in the falafel-making part of the process. The texture, however, was really lovely and comforting. Sometimes falafel has a bitterness to it, but I didn’t get that at all with these tender patties.
Purple Carrot Ponzu Tofu with Kohlrabi and Tri-Colored Quinoa
Prep & Cook Time, According to Purple Carrot: 30 minutes
Actual Prep & Cook Time: About 30 minutes
The first thing I noticed about this dish is that they supplied wayyy more quinoa than you need for one round of the recipe. I used just one packet of the boil-in-a-bag quinoa. (There were four in the box.) I like mixing quinoa in with roasted veggies and salads, so they’ll get used. But it was unique, being that most meal kits I’ve seen are all about only sending you as much as you need (so there’s minimal wasted food afterward).
I will say I was impressed by how easy it was to cook quinoa via these bags. As I mentioned in the last recipe, I rarely make quinoa or rice without half of it sticking to the bottom of the pot or being slightly overdone in general. Is it me? Is it my electric stove? Who can say. Point is, this quinoa came out of the bag light, fluffy, and beautifully tender.
This recipe was pretty simple. I had expected more to go into the tofu prep since tofu usually likes to be jazzed up with some kind of marinade or seasoning. Instead, it just got cubed and tossed into a pan to fry up. I like the mildly nutty taste of plain tofu, but I could see someone wanting a little more kick. If I try this recipe again, I might try to soak the tofu in some soy sauce or sprinkle ’em with a little chili flake to give them something extra.
This recipe missed the mark for me for a few easily remedied reasons. The main one is that the ponzu-rice-wine sauce that drives this dish ended up being suuuuper pungent. Emily and I were both a little overwhelmed. It was really vinegar-y, to a point where it was hard to appreciate the nuanced flavors in the dish. I also felt like the veggies didn’t have the moment they deserved. Once it was all cooked, the kohlrabi is dwarfed by the tofu and quinoa. There’s also a mayo ponzu sauce you make to drizzle over the top, but the vegan mayo ends up separating a lot (hence the little blobs of white mayo that you see in the photo above). I really really wanted to love this one, but it just didn’t quite come together. If I made it again, I’d go bigger on the veggies, skip the mayo on top, go easier on the ponzu dressing, and add something a little spicy to the dish (again, a shake or two of chili pepper might do just fine) to diversify the flavors a little.
Purple Carrot Lemon Caper Cauliflower Steaks with Parsnip Mash and Asparagus
Prep & Cook Time, According to Purple Carrot: 35 minutes
Actual Prep & Cook Time: About 35 minutes
Cauliflower is the most magical food. When I was little I thought it was weird. Little me would be aghast at just how much cauliflower I eat nowadays!!! I love this versatile veggie, so when I saw this recipe in my box, I was soooo excited. It seems a bit like a fish dish, with its lemon-caper pairing, but of course, there’s no fish here.
This recipe had a few pans to manage at once, but no individual pan/task was too tricky. First, the stars of the show (the cauliflower and asparagus) went in the oven to roast. (The asparagus is added halfway through the cauliflower’s cooking process). I should note that this was another recipe with extra ingredients left over. Well, one extra ingredient. You only really use half the head of cauliflower that they sent. As I mentioned, I’m cauliflower’s biggest fan, so I could put that second chunk to use (either by roasting it up or just nibbling on it raw with a yummy dip). But if you’re in this for convenience/minimizing waste in the kitchen, you should be aware.
The next component is the parsnip mash. They send you pre-cubed parsnip, so the process is just cooking it (pretty much the same way you’d boil potatoes for mashing), smushing it up, and mixing in a few extra ingredients to give it added flavor and creaminess. They say you can do the mashing with a fork, but it was a little rough going for me. Maybe I need to work on my wrist strength, ha! I guess my parsnips ended up being more smashed than mashed, but they were yummy just the same.
Then there’s the sauce. Oh, my, my, my, the sauce. I am in LOVE with this sauce! Made from sauteed shallot, a little oil, capers, and a healthy dose of fresh lemon juice, this sauce is the aromatic kind of thing that could lure someone into the kitchen from across the house. I don’t think I cook with capers enough. The flavor is so salty and unique.
Oh, last thing I didn’t get a photo of—toasting the pepitas! There’s no photo of my roasting pumpkin seeds because I was so nervous that I’d burn them if I took my eyes off them. They end up adding a nice crunch to the dish, but I don’t think they did too much for the flavor.
Readers. I beg of ye. TRY THIS RECIPE! It is soooo good. It’s the kind of thing I wholeheartedly believe the meat-lovers in my life would enjoy. The sauce adds such a light, lip-smacking zip to every component. The parsnip mash is creamy and hearty, the cauliflower is savory, mildly toasty, and beautifully tender, and the asparagus is a refreshing complement to the earthy flavors on the plate. I could eat this combo every day. Seriously! It’s so filling and comfort foody. Emily agreed—this dish was the clear winner!
One hangup I have with a lot of vegetarian or plant-based meal kit recipes is that they often rely too heavily on building a meal around grains (like a risotto that’s mostly rice, or a pasta dish that’s mostly… well… pasta). I like grains in my diet, but when they make up the majority of a dish, they tend to give me that post-Thanksgiving feeling. (Aka, my body says “It’s time to sleep!”) I love that this recipe was almost completely built on veggies and healthy fats that made it filling, delicious, but easy on my digestive system, too!
Verdict: I’m eager to get to know Purple Carrot better after this first date of ours, hehe! While the Ponzu Tofu was a swing and a miss, I was glad to experience the falafel dish, and that cauliflower? Ugh! That dish made the whole box feel worth it. The price per serving is high for a meal box, but it’s about equivalent to what I might pay for a main dish at a nice vegan restaurant nearby. I have a good feeling I could make these meals for a bit less moola by nabbing ingredients at the grocery store, but I’m treating this box like cooking school. In other words, I’m willing to pay a little more for the hand-holding in the kitchen, so that I can learn to be a savvier plant-based cook!
To Wrap Up:
Coupon – Save $20 off your first order with code NEWCARROT!
Value Breakdown: Each serving costs $12.00, meaning this box cost $72.00.
Check out lots of meal prep boxes in the Food Subscription Box Directory and make sure to add Purple Carrot to your subscription list or wishlist!
What do you think of Purple Carrot?