Tangy Lentil Sloppy Joes

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Do you remember? Aqua Net, parachute pants, giant Apple computers, Guns N’ Roses, Van Halen and U2 on the boombox … yoyos (!!). I’m showing my age.
OMGeee.

Flashback to the 1980’s when Manwich was a weeknight staple. Ma would whip up sloppy joes in no time flat and she always served them with tater tots or potato salad. They were one of my favorite things. At the time, vegetarian sloppy joes were unheard of in our household.


Is that when Manwich was invented?
Then, Adam Sandler wrote an ode to sloppy joes in Lunch Lady Land. I’m telling you, they were revolutionary!

I didn’t even know what a lentil was back in the day, let alone be able recognize it if it appeared on my sloppy joe. Never would I thought one day I’d be singing the praises of these vegetarian sloppy joes!
Ingredients for Tangy Lentil Sloppy Joes: Onions, Lentils, katsup, maple syrup, green bell pepper, mustard and spices.

Those days are long gone, and although my love of 80’s music hasn’t changed much, my diet has, as well as my wardrobe (hehe). As for sloppy joes, hands down, this vegan sloppy joes version wins.
I think even my big brother would approve (Chuck, are you listening – i.e. go get some lentils).
And really, this easy vegan sloppy joes recipe is just as simple to make.

INGREDIENTS FOR THIS TANGY LENTIL SLOPPY JOES RECIPE 

It’s so much about pantry staples that pull this easy vegetarian sloppy Joes recipe together. Here’s what you’ll need:
  • French Lentils
  • Onion
  • Bell Pepper
  • Chili Powder
  • Paprika
  • Garlic
  • Tomato Paste
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Pickle Juice
  • Vegan Worcestershire
  • Yellow Mustard
  • Maple Syrup
Sautéing onions and bell peppers in a pan.    After the onions and peppers are soft, the tomato paste and spices are added. To the sauce, the French lentils are added.

HOW TO MAKE LENTIL SLOPPY JOES

These vegan sloppy joes are super simple to make and can be meal prepped days in advance (they’re freezer friendly too)!
  • First, put the lentils on to cook.
  • Next, while the lentils are cooking, make the sauce. Saute the onions and bell pepper. Stir in the garlic, spices, tomato sauce and tangy ingredients like mustard and pickle juice. Toss in a bit of maple syrup to sweeten the pot.
  • Last, when the lentils are done cooking, stir them into the sauce.
Spoon onto buns and top with tangy anything like pickled onions, jalapeños, pickles, plenty of mustard and/or a big pile of cooling, creamy coleslaw.
A few glugs of Tabasco are a nice addition too.
It’s simple dinners like this that I like to keep in mind when I’m craving comfort food, yet need it quick. Vegetarian sloppy joes deliver every time! 
An overhead image of Tangy Lentil Sloppy Joes sandwiches, served with pickles and pickled onions on the side. A front view of Tangy Lentil Sloppy Joes Sandwich served with an onion ring on top and toasty grilled buns.

A FEW RECIPE NOTES ON LENTIL SLOPPY JOES

  • Pair this vegetarian sloppy joe with your favorite coleslaw, Broccoli Slaw with Golden Raisins and Walnuts, tater tots, onion rings and/or Texas Potato Salad for the full experience!
  • My friend Kelly has a fabulous Quick Pickled Red Onion recipe you can make to pile on top of this vegetarian sandwich! 
  • Adding a few onion rings on top offers a little crunch too.
  • Meal prep ready! Prepare the lentil sloppy joe filling and store in a lidded container in the refrigerator for up to three days. 
  • Freezer friendly? Yes please! Store in a lidded container in the freezer for up to two weeks. 
Now, for a friendly reminder: it’s CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) season. Be sure to check Local Harvest for your nearest farm or farmers market and support your local farmers!

TANGY LENTIL SLOPPY JOES

Grab a fork, napkin and those tangy toppings, we're getting sloppy y'all! Freezer friendly Tangy Lentil Sloppy Joes are tender, slightly spicy and oh SO crave-worthy. Serve them up with your favorite tater tots, fries or potato salad. Vegan + Gluten Free
 
Total Time30 mins
 
Course: Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Easy Vegetarian Sandwich Recipe, Lentil Sloppy Joes, Vegan Sloppy Joes, Vegetarian Sloppy Joes
Servings: 6 Servings
Calories: 126kcal
Author: Traci York | Vanilla And Bean

Ingredients

  • 1 C (215g) French Lentils *see note
  • 4 C (815g) Water
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt divided
  • 1 Tbs Coconut or Olive Oil unrefined, virgin
  • 2 C (245g) Yellow Onion diced (about 1 medium onion)
  • 2 C (230g) Green Bell Pepper diced (about 1 large pepper)
  • 2 Large Cloves of Garlic minced
  • 2 1/2 Tbs Chili Powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp Smoky Paprika
  • 3 Tbs Tomato Paste
  • 1 1/2 C (426g) Tomato Sauce (1 Can)
  • 1 Tbs Pickle Juice or other pickling brine like olive
  • 2 tsp Vegan Worcestershire
  • 3 Tbs Yellow Mustard
  • 2-3 Tbs Maple Syrup or more to taste

Serve with (Optional):

  • Hamburger Buns
  • Pickles, Tabasco, quick pickled onions, jalapeños, extra mustard, coleslaw.

Instructions

In a small sauce pot, add the lentils, water and 1/8 tsp salt. Bring to a boil, then turn down to low. Cook for about 20-22 minutes, or until tender. Drain the lentils. Set aside. 
  • While the lentils are cooking, add the oil to a large saute pan and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook on low with 1/8 tsp salt for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the bell pepper during the last 7-8 minutes of cooking the onions and soften, stirring occasionally. 
  • To the onion/pepper mixture add the garlic, chili powder, paprika and 3/4 tsp salt continuing to cook on low. Stir to coat the veggies. Add the tomato paste, sauce, pickle juice, Worcestershire, mustard and maple syrup. Stir to incorporate. Add the cooked lentils and stir again cooking on low for 5-10 minutes to warm through and to thicken a bit.  Serve with warmed buns and condiments.
  • Store the sloppy joes in a lidded container for up to three days or freeze for up to two weeks.