Vegan Sloppy Joe
- 2 cups water (I used half water, half vegetable broth)
- 1 cup red lentils, well rinsed
- 2 Tbsp olive or grape seed oil
- 1 shallot, minced (plus more for serving)
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 cloves yield ~1 Tbsp)
- 1/2 medium red or green bell pepper, diced
- Sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
- 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce*
- 1-2 Tbsp coconut sugar (plus more to taste)
- 1-2 Tbsp vegan-friendly Worcestershire sauce* (like this brand // ensure gluten-free for GF eaters)
- 1-2 tsp chili powder (plus more to taste)
- 1 tsp ground cumin (plus more to taste)
- 1 pinch smoked or regular paprika(optional)
FOR SERVING optional
- Gluten-free or whole-wheat hamburger buns*
Add red lentils to a small saucepan, add liquid (water and/or vegetable broth) and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add rinsed red lentils and bring back to a gentle boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 7-10 minutes, or until just tender. You want them to be cooked through but not mushy. Drain well and set aside.
In the meantime, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add oil, onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Season with a pinch each salt and pepper and stir to combine.
Sautè for 4-5 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the peppers and onions are tender and slightly browned.
Next add tomato sauce, coconut sugar, vegan worcestershire sauce, chili powder, cumin, and paprika (optional). Stir to combine.
Once the lentils are cooked, add them to the skillet as well, and stir to combine.
Continue cooking the mixture over medium-low heat until completely warmed through and thick, stirring occasionally – about 5-10 minutes.
Taste and adjust flavor as needed, adding more chili powder and/or cumin for smokiness, salt for saltiness, coconut sugar for sweetness, or worcestershire for depth of flavor.
Serve the mixture on toasted buns with Ume plum cucumbers and/or Ume plum cabbage. Best when fresh, though leftover sloppy joe mixture will keep in the refrigerator up to 4-5 days, or in the freezer for 1 month. Reheat on the stovetop, adding water or vegetable broth if the mixture has dried out.
Ume Plum Cucumbers/Cabbage: sliced cucumbers or shredded red cabbage soaked 30 minutes or more in 1:4 ratio of Ume plum vinegar and water.