Chunky Vegan Sloppy Joe

The key to good, healthy eating at home is variety. Lots and lots of variety, because when you get right down to it, a fully stocked spice cabinet can mean the difference between takeout four times a week or eating what you want. At home. With ingredients you can identify.

And so we happen upon my second attempt at making a delicious vegan sloppy Joe. The first one, with beans & lentils, came out all right but I wanted to experiment with something a little heartier. And spicier. And I wanted to use my latest obsession: soya pieces.

I’ve talked a time or two about these dried soya pieces. They come in several sizes from big extra large chunks all the way down to tiny granules so you can whip up tons of dishes with them. So I was inspired to dust off my old recipe and dress it up a bit.

For the buns, I went with buttery (vegan buttery) brioche buns with sesame seeds on top, toasted of course. Just toast for a couple minutes just before you’re ready to start plating up the food. Toasting the bread will allow it to maintain some integrity when the sauce and filling gets a little heavy.

Now for the Sloppy in the Sloppy Joe:

Diced soya pieces

Onion

Bell pepper (red & green)

Garlic

Worcestershire sauce (without anchovies)

Vine tomatoes (2, ripe to overripe)

Tomato paste

Water

Cornstarch

I have a few special ingredients I use to get this sauce spicy & thick. Gochugang, which is spicy Korean chili paste, a dash of Crystal hot sauce and diced jalapeno peppers. If you’re not into spice, leave it out.

Cook this dish in layers because it will enhance the flavor profile and it will matter, I promise. I started with the soya to dry it out a little and get it crisp around the edges before adding the vegetables.

Add garlic and tomatoes (after a dance in the food processor) later along with water and cornstarch. Simmer and let thicken and then get ready to grub.

Since we went overboard and had 2 sandwiches this night, I’m proud to say I didn’t make any side dishes. This was plenty calorific for a dinner meal and fries, though they would have been delicious, would have also been excessive with this meal.

Tell me, how do you like your vegan Sloppy Joe?

Spicy Bean & Lentil Sloppy Joe

Sloppy Joe is a sandwich that will now and forever remind me of my childhood. As a kid of the 80’s & 90’s this sandwich was right up there with the golden arches in terms of my favorite foods to eat. But of course, as time went on and Cosmo told me how to get lean & sexy, or I simply became too cool for such things, but soon those thick, tomato-y sandwiches became nothing but a memory.

Until I left the United States. It’s funny how things you take for granted end up being what keeps you grounded and reminds you of home. Even before I adopted a plant based lifestyle, I would make plenty of Sloppy Joe variations for my German and European friends who got a kick out of it. Except for the ones who didn’t quite understand it.

Lately I’ve been really in a burger kind of mood which means we’ve had plenty of butter-free burger buns lying around the kitchen, and when it was time to go shopping again, I knew this would be an excellent use for them.

To make vegan sloppy joe sandwiches you have to start with the “meat”. You can go simple and use tofu crumbles that do a good job of recreating that texture of ground animal meat, or you can go another way. For a long time I would go to my old faithful, kidney beans, but this time I decided to use cranberry (borlotti) beans and brown lentils. Weird, right? I know but I was in a weird mood and something told me it not turn out completely terrible.

The ingredient list for this IS intimidating but I promise it’s not complicated, so here we go:

Brown lentils

Bell Pepper (any color, I used red & green)

Onion

Garlic

Tomato paste

Vegan Worcestershire

Gochugaru

Cranberry beans

Firm tofu (half brick, finger crumbled)

Garlic

Buns

Saute the vegetables & crumbled tofu while the lentils cook, adding the garlic last so it doesn’t burn.

Then add the tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce, adding liquid to the pan when it begins to sizzle. This will give your sandwich the depth of flavor as if you used that canned stuff from back in the day.

Add lentils and beans and more water or stock as needed, simmering until a thick paste forms.

And that’s pretty much it!

Now you need to dress your bun and figure out…side dishes.

Between the buns and the beans and lentils, I decided to have veggie chips and found a giant carrot and zucchini. I cut them on a bias, dunking them in an almond milk/mustard mixture before coating them with Panko crumbs. Twenty minutes in the oven, flipping halfway and you’ve got a healthy version of a childhood favorite.

If you’ve got the time or patience, feel free to whip up a BBQ sauce, mayo or ketchup for the chips.

This was fairly easy and quick-ish to make, but the best part was that there were leftovers and the next day we just piled it into a bowl and ate it like a thick soup.

And just in case you were wondering what I drank with it…