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Have you ever made a vegan or veggie version of a recipe and then actually preferred it to the original? This was my experience recently when I swapped French lentils in for ground beef in my recipe for vegan sloppy Joe – the result was simply astonishing.

My younger sister was in town to hang out for a few days, and she is a vegetarian. Sure, it’s summer and we could easily subside on salads and gorgeous local berries, but I wanted to serve her something substantial. She works out rather extensively and, if it were me, I’d be starving afterward.

These vegetable-filled lentil Sloppy Joes were just the ticket, served up on a whole-wheat bun with homemade sweet zucchini relish and topped with ripe avocado scooped with a spoon.

vegan sloppy joes

This month on Jamieoliver.com, we’re focusing on special diets. The goal is to inspire you to get creative with your food, whether you are gluten intolerant, dairy free or follow a vegan diet – whatever your dietary decisions happen to be.

Lentils are one of my favorite dry-pantry staples to have around – for main meals or sides. We know lentils are packed with protein, but how about full of fibre? Yes! High in iron? Check. Thus they’re a smart choice for vegetarians and folks who are cutting back on their red meat.

These Lentil sloppy Joes are a filling, frugal, and totally satisfying meatless main. Final verdict? Even the kids liked them. That’s a win in my books.

Vegan lentil sloppy Joes

Serves 6

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 red or yellow sweet pepper, diced
2 sticks of celery, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 cup (200g) French lentils
1- 28oz (796ml) can tomato sauce
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon Sriracha sauce
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
6 whole-wheat or sprouted grain buns, sliced in half
Toppings (optional): relish, pickles, avocado, coleslaw, sliced onions…anything goes!

Heat the olive oil in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the diced onion, pepper and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, or until they soften. Sprinkle in the cumin and chilli powder; cook for an additional minute.

Add the lentils, 3 cups of water, tomato sauce, tomato paste and Sriracha. Increase heat to high and bring the lentils a simmer. Cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water if the level falls below the lentils.

Taste the lentils, and if they are sufficiently tender (stoves and pots may vary) add the salt and balsamic. Stir and serve over buttered buns you favourite toppings.


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