Easy to prepare, tasty and healthy—those are the most important factors luring many of us into the world of subscription foods. The headline for Purple Carrot is that it’s vegan, but the service isn’t just for people who regularly sprinkle nutritional yeast on their food. More people are featuring plant-based foods in meals, and Purple Carrot makes it really simple. You just prepare whatever arrives on your doorstep weekly (three meals for two or four people). Everything comes with complete instructions and measurements, so you can easily re-create the dishes after a trip to your local market.
The first service I tried was Blue Apron, which has lots of ways to personalize based on your own eating habits. Purple Carrot works differently. You take what you get—or you skip the week if you don’t like the menu. I eat mostly vegetarian (sometimes I’ll have seafood), so it didn’t feel like a stretch to have three vegan meals. My husband is chicken-obsessed, so I was a little more wary of his reaction, but he loves good meatless meals, so I figured he’d be a good taste tester.
Here’s what happened during my week with Purple Carrot.
Purple Carrot Delivery Day
That’s when I found out what the dishes would be (you can look this up online before, but I liked the surprise!). The three meals were: Tuscan stuffed mushrooms with roasted tomatoes and lemon parsley salad; Korean eggplant tacos with kimchi mayo; and crispy garden cakes with basil-white bean mash and summer tomatoes.
I was impressed with how everything was labeled and packaged to make it easy to put the dishes together, but the amount of packaging made me feel pretty guilty. I’m the kind of person who’ll try the reuse a lot of it. The quality of the ingredients were good—there was one tomato I wouldn’t have chosen myself at the market, but I figured that’s good for a whole box of ingredients shipped to my doorstep.
I can often be a save-the-best-for-last person, so I figured that would be the garden cakes dish. The tacos didn’t really strike me as a full meal, so I made the mushrooms first.
Meal #1: Tuscan Stuffed Mushrooms With Roasted Tomatoes and Lemon Parsley Salad
We’ve always liked stuffed mushrooms, but I rarely think of making them. Both of us were really impressed by these. You couldn’t really tell what was in them, since it’s all pureed, but that didn’t bother us. If I made them again, I might top them with some sunflower seeds for a little crunch.
I’ve never been a roasted tomato maker, but the ease of roasting veggies—and now tomatoes—always makes me want to do it more often. The parsley salad was a complete surprise, since I’d never had parsley as the lone green. The lemon was a little too much for my taste, but the parsley tasted great with the other parts of the meal.
This light meal was a winner, and we’d love to have it again!
Meal #2: Korean Eggplant Tacos with Kimchi Mayo
Since this seemed like it wouldn’t be enough for a meal, we made these as an appetizer when we had neighbors over. By cooking the eggplant in oil and then baking the eggplant with a sauce, it seemed like extra work, and because eggplant absorbs oil easily, these were greasy. The gochujang sauce on the eggplant made them so tasty, we had a mixed response about whether to even use the kimchi mayo. We had a lot left over.
We all thought these would have been better with some other ingredients to add some more substance, even if it was just shredded cabbage. We could have used more tortillas, since none of us wanted to pack ours with as much eggplant as we had.
We were happy to try this dish but wouldn’t make it again. I’d use the gochujang sauce for a stir-fry!
Meal #3: Crispy Garden Cakes With Basil–White Bean Mash and Summer Tomatoes
This was another meal that we ate with neighbors. It was meant for two, but I figured it would easily divide up for four, and with the tacos from meal #2, we’d have enough to eat. I had very high hopes for this dish, but it was on the dry side.
The picture that comes with the instructions shows a lot of small patties, but the directions say to make four. They were so large, that they couldn’t really be well cooked. If we’d made smaller patties, they would have been a lot better after getting all crispy in the pan. If the tomatoes were mixed with the beans, that would have helped them be more moist. The dipping sauce could certainly help, but none of us were particularly keen on it being like mayo.
I’d make the crispy garden cakes again and serve them atop a salad with a lemony dressing.
Lessons Learned from My Purple Carrot Experience
Even with all of my experience as a vegetarian, the best lesson of this test was that sometimes you can’t tell how good a dish will be by looking at a photo and the ingredients. If you want to add more plant-based meals to your diet (this is really good for the planet!), this is a perfect opportunity to try new things and learn some cooking techniques that may be new to you. There are so many aspects to each dish, whether you’re an experienced cook or a newbie, you’ll find the instructions clear and you’ll end up with ideas to work into your repertoire. Having everything delivered to your door makes cooking healthy, tasty meals so easy.