Sloppy Joes!

This dish has become a staple in my house – delicious, very fast, and filling. It’s based off the Snobby Joes recipe from the¬†Veganomicon. The first time we made it, we didn’t have half the ingredients the original recipe called for, so we improvised. It was really yummy and since then I’ve never felt the need to make the recipe as written in the book. I have just fine-tuned our modifications until they practically make themselves.

I’ve used creative measurements in the ingredients list because I never measure them myself – just add what looks good, erring on the side of caution, and taste it. If you like it, it’s done! (I put approximations in parentheses but I’m very much in favor of cooking by feel whenever possible.)

I served these to David and Alex when they came up to visit not too long ago. We were at the store getting ingredients beforehand and I told Alex if she wanted things like milk or cheese or meat on hand while she and David stayed with us that she should grab them while we were there, because as a vegan I don’t usually have those things in my fridge. She asked me, “So, isn’t there meat in Sloppy Joes?” and I replied, “Ohhh, yeah, they’re made with lentils.” I had completely forgotten that most Sloppy Joes do, in fact, contain ground meat. This recipe is that good that it has eclipsed all other Sloppy Joes I have previously eaten.


  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • a few glugs of extra virgin olive oil (approximately 2 tablespoons)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced or smushed in a garlic press
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils (available in the refrigerated section near the herbs, vegetables, and prepackaged veg mixes)*
  • 15oz can of tomato sauce (or use marinara sauce from a bottle)
  • a squirt or two of ketchup (or a splash of red wine or apple cider vinegar) (approximately 1-2 tablespoons)
  • a few liberal shakes of liquid smoke (approximately 1/2 teaspoon)
  • several “glugs” of maple syrup (2-3 tablespoons)
  • mustard to taste (optional) (1-2 tablespoons)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 long sandwich rolls (favorites among our family and friends are sourdough or dutch crunch) or 1-2 baguettes, cut into desired lengths.


Saute onion and bell pepper in olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat until soft and tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and stir for another minute. Add in the lentils – they are very tightly packed so it helps to squish up the lentil brick with your hands while they are still in the plastic packaging, then cut off the top and dump them in. Stir until all the lentil clumps have broken up and everything is well-combined.

Add the tomato sauce and the ketchup. At this point you will need to keep stirring because the sauce will bubble up wildly and get all over if you are not careful. Mix in the liquid smoke, maple syrup, and mustard. Stir a little bit more, then remove from the heat and let the mixture sit and cool. Split the sandwich rolls in half lengthwise and scoop out the insides so you have little bread canoes. Toast them in the toaster oven if you like. Scoop the Sloppy Joe mix into the canoes, and serve open-faced on a large plate.

Serves 4

*Note: If you can’t find the Steamed Lentils at Trader Joe’s you can substitute 2 heaping cups of cooked lentils. But I really hope that you can find them, because they’re just amazingly convenient and totally worth not having to cook up some dried lentils.


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One Comment

  1. Jonathan
    Posted April 16, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    I can attest that these are, in fact, delicious!


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