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 again.
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!
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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 Vegan Peruvian Jackfruit Torta with Aji Verde and Crispy Plantains
Prep & Cook Time, According to Purple Carrot: 40 minutes
Actual Prep & Cook Time: About 40 minutes
I've had jackfruit before in dishes where it's supposed to take the place of pulled pork. Now, granted, it's been a minute since I've had actual pulled pork, but the mouthfeel of this veggie version is surprisingly satisfying (at least for someone who LOVES the yummy, sloppy deliciousness of barbecue but would rather not literally pig out.)
I've never prepped jackfruit myself before, though, so I was curious how difficult the process would be. Turns out, it's not super difficult. Once it's out of the can, you simply shred the jackfruit with your fingers and mix it all up with garlic, white vinegar, cumin, and smoked paprika. The only weird thing I've got to mention is that... wow... jackfruit is like... the spookiest looking thing right out of the can. It's just this beige, slimy stuff with these weird... how can I put this... pores in it. The best thing I can liken it to is like one of those blown up science class pictures of what hair follicles in the skin look like. Awful, I know. I just had to keep telling myself how tasty this was going to be. And also not to look at what I was squishing up while I squished it.
The rest of the recipe was similarly easy peasy, though it did require pulling out a blender. (In case you didn't notice, Purple Carrot assumes you'll have a food processor and a blender in your kitchen—those are slightly higher expectations than most other meal kits I've tried.) I'm definitely going to whip up the aji sauce again, either for this recipe or for others. You basically blend up jalapeno with vegan mayo, cilantro, and some other seasonings, and it makes this great refreshing, barely spicy, creamy sauce that gives this dish a lot of tasty moisture and summery flair.
Here's the finished product! I gave the second sandwich to Emily, who is a long-time 100% vegan, and she loved it. The jackfruit doesn't have the moisture of a sauce-soaked pile of pulled pork, but the slaw, which is drenched in the aji sauce, adds just the right amount of luscious sogginess that a big, decadent sandwich like this needs. I loved the crunch of the slaw mixed with the warm, meaty jackfruit. And the bun was cushy enough to keep all of the ingredients in check (rather than spilling out the sides). I might want something more than the leftover aji to dip the plantain "fries" into—the aji is awesome but has a looser consistency that doesn't grip the plantains the way a nice vegan ranch would.
Purple Carrot Vegan Eggplant Moussaka with Tofu Bechamel and Escarole Salad
Prep & Cook Time, According to Purple Carrot: 40 minutes
Actual Prep & Cook Time: About 50 minutes
Vegetarian moussaka is delicious (at least the one at Whole Foods hot bar...) but I was eager to see how the tofu "bechamel" topper on this recipe held up against the cheesy version I'm used to.
This recipe required a food processor, into which you toss your tofu and some seasonings (including three cloves of garlic—yum) for your sauce. The resulting sauce is smooth and flavorful with a consistency a lot like hummus.
This was one of those recipes that made me really feel like a cook, mostly because I was using so much of my kitchen during the process. I peeled the eggplant, had to whip up the sauce in the food processor, cooked the eggplant on the stove, then finished the moussaka in the oven. I also made a dressing in a separate bowl and tossed the escarole in it. If you're a frequent cook, you're probably like "Yeah? What's the big deal?" But for an amateur like me, this is super far from the one-pot or one-pan meals I'm used to making. Especially if your kitchen is smaller, you might experience a little bit of overwhelming. (A feeling that will grow when you see all the dishes that need to be done at the end of the process!)
The moussaka is essentially layers of pan-cooked eggplant, crushed tomatoes, walnuts, and finally, the bechamel topper. Because the crushed tomatoes were so juicy, I found it hard to make my bechamel look as even as the one in the instructions. I'll also say that this pan is about 7" x 10", though the recipe calls for 8" x 8". I didn't notice a huge impact in terms of doneness or cooking time, but just FYI!
As you can tell, it's not the most glamorous recipe to ever hit the plate, but wow, was it ever tasty! I let Emily indulge in this serving and I piled mine into a bowl. (It made it so I wasn't chasing the tomatoey goodness all around the plate.) The bechamel is actually the perfect topping for the otherwise uber-juicy dish, as it provides a little more of that filling, a thicker consistency that you want from a casserole (and sops some of the flavor up, I think). The scattered walnuts help give some variety in terms of texture, and the garlic naan is a great complement—you need something to help soak up this dish. I was so-so about the salad, though it did provide a nice balance for this heftier food. It just felt SO simple (it's basically escarole and an oil and lemon dressing) that I was a little surly about having to do the extra legwork to make it (in other words, the extra dishes). But I've already told several friends and family members about this dish and can't wait to make it again. In the meantime, it only took half of my pan to leave Emily and I feeling super full, so there are plentiful leftovers!
Purple Carrot Socca Pizza with Carrot Parsnip Hummus and Garden Vegetables
Prep & Cook Time, According to Purple Carrot: 35 minutes
Actual Prep & Cook Time: About 40 minutes
So, "socca" apparently refers to the garbanzo-flour crust upon which these other pizza toppings sit. I've not experimented with garbanzo flour before, so this was a new adventure for me. Another unique piece of the pie is the carrot parsnip hummus that takes the place of sauce. Hummus, I've done before, but this one used roasted veggies, rather than mere herbs and garlic and whatnot.
Making the crust was suuuuper simple. You're basically just making a batter out of the garbanzo flour, then adding some seasoning for taste. The batter is first cooked in a large frying pan on the stove like a pancake before being finished off in the oven.
Be aware that this is another whole-kitchen recipe (or at least for a novice cook like me). To create the hummus, you first peel, chop, and roast the veggies on a sheet pan. Then they go into a food processor with beans and other odds and ends. Then you mix up the socca batter in a bowl before adding it to a pan, which goes in the oven and pops back out for final assembly. So you're using an oven, the stove, the food processor, and some mixing bowls, etc. It's not a one-pan, chop-cook-and-eat kind of thing. But the results are pretty awesome.
Here's the whole pie in the pan.
And here it is finished and on the plate! I did find that my crust was sticking an awful lot in some areas of the pan, so I might have needed a little more oil in those corners. The crust isn't the sturdiest, but there's a chewy quality to it that was fun and kind of different. Most importantly, the flavors on top of the crust were so exciting that I really didn't worry too much about what they were sitting on! I love the concept of potatoes on pizza, so that was a win, as was the fresh pop of mizuna and radish. But the star here was definitely the parsnip and carrot hummus, which was warm, rich, and full of yummy, hearty flavors. This dish has a summery look to it, but the hummus seems like something that'd be just as at home in the fall months as it is here in spring. I feel like in the future, I might make a whole bunch of that hummus to keep in the fridge and recreate this 'za with a pita or tortilla for more of an oh-wow-I-just-got-home-from-work-and-need-to-eat-NOW! kind of meal!
Verdict: So, if you're brand new to veganism and using Purple Carrot to explore what vegan cooking is like, I feel like this box doesn't do a great job of making it NOT seem super complicated. You're not having to go so far as to soak nuts or beans overnight or make your own vegan cheese or anything like that, but it does feel slightly more demanding (in terms of the tools you need and variety of preparations that things need per meal) than other vegetarian boxes I've tried. That said, I'd be overdoing it if I said these meals were "hard". Just if you're someone who is BRAND new to the kitchen (or doesn't have a lot of space/supplies in your kitchen), you might be overwhelmed by some of the things that pop up here. The good news, of course, is that if you're patient enough and have the kitchen gear you need to try these meals, the results are deeeelicious. I was impressed by all of these dishes as a mostly vegetarian eater, and so was my super vegan taste-tester, Emily. Servings are $12.00 a pop, based on the price of the box, but the pizza and moussaka could honestly have served 4 comfortably. So I feel like I'm getting my money's worth there. (Even more so when I consider how much I typically pay for yummy vegan takeout.)
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.
Keep Track of Your Subscriptions: Add this box to your subscription list or wishlist!
What do you think of Purple Carrot?