December 14th, 2015 by smccafferty -
The meal kits available today are plentiful. Blue Apron, Plated, Hello Fresh, Green Blender and Peach Dish just to name a few (what’s with the color being integral to the name? Hmmmm). Well, last week I received my delivery of Purple Carrot and wanted to share my experience.
About Purple Carrot: Purple Carrot is a plant-based meal delivery service that started last year (2014). The big news about Purple Carrot was the hiring of their Chief Innovation Officer, Mark Bittman, formerly of the New York Times. Bittman is a high profile hire, with 14 books and cookbooks, in addition to his thoughtful work for the Times. Much beloved (by me, anyway) for his pragmatic approach to eating healthy and making the complex seem simple. If you don’t currently use the recipe for fresh pasta from his “How to Cook Everything” cookbook, you are missing out.
So why Purple Carrot for me? I’ve been eyeing these meal kits for a while but we don’t really eat a lot of meat, so that ruled out a few of the options. And vegan cooking has always intrigued me, as it is just something that I am not familiar with entirely. I may cook vegan on occasion, but it’s more by accident than anything else.
The food arrived Wednesday, as promised. And, if you have read about meal kit delivery services, many of them talk about the excess of packaging. I thought the packaging was fine, minimal even. So no worries there.
I made 2 of the 3 meals: Tofu Larbes with a rice noodle pancake and Potato / Zucchini latkes with cranberry compote. All the ingredients were measured, which definitely simplified the prep. The veggies needed cut, of course, which I was glad to do. Most looked good, although my sous chef, age 7, who squeezed the limes, found them not “dry” and not as good as the previous day’s Taco Tuesday limes I picked up from Kroger.
From start to finish, each meal took about 1 hr 15 min. The recipe cards are lovely to look at and include the directions / measurements.
So how was the meal? In a word, “Meh.” I ate it and no one else did. Literally no one else in my household of 2 adults and 2 children, tried it. The rice pancake was terrible and actually got thrown away (too high of heat maybe? user error?) The lettuce wrap / tofu larbes were okay once I added The Brinery’s sriarcha sauce. They were pretty dry and really lacked flavor overall.
The next meal, the latkes, were equally meh if not more so. In fact, both meals were bland enough that I have yet to make the 3rd. It’s always rough when you try to make dinner and it is a failure, then do it again the very next night. Makes ordering out seem like a great idea. Luckily I had backups both nights of some leftovers from nights before.
In defense of Purple Carrot, I think there may have been user error. The tofu, once cooked, was very dry, so I may have skimped on the liquids to add. The compote from the latkes burned the pan within minutes, so I missed a note that said how high to keep that heat (or did I? Was it in there?)
In hindsight, I am not the target audience. I thought it would simplify vegan cooking for me and bring the family along an experimental journey when it comes to new foods at dinner.
I am already pretty engaged in cooking (fresh pasta at least once a week, my son’s friend thinks I should open a bakery). But I am not dedicated to veganism. I just wanted to dabble, and I didn’t want to compromise the taste. And I went through half a bottle of EVOO cooking this food, which is more than I typically use.
I may try it again if the recipes look right. For now, I am planning on sticking with my somewhat casual, but experimental ways and yes, I am going to keep the IPA as part of the prep. Just a treat for the back of the house…