I’ve said it before, much of my inspiration in the kitchen comes from my mom. Growing up, we had family dinners every weeknight, and my mom always managed to make delicious, creative, balanced and varied meals for us. Because my mom ran a successful non-profit and had three kids, two dogs and a husband to deal with, these meals also had to be fast, affordable and simple to get on the table.
This past weekend, my kitchen hero (aka my mom) made the trek from St. Louis to New York to visit my oldest sister and me, and to no one’s surprise, the topic of food came up on multiple occasions. One of these conversations taught me something I didn’t know about my mom, and that is that many times she considered writing a cookbook focused on recipes that are meant for super busy moms committed to wholesome, fun, and affordable family dinners. From classic meatball parm subs to a DIY Greek pita bars, she always had something fun and tasty up her sleeve to get us to the table.
Although I often reminisce about my mom’s cooking, this particular conversation ignited my desire to create vegetarian, crowd-pleasing meals that are ready for serving in around 30 minutes. This whole concept was realized last night in the form of vegan sloppy joe sandwiches for me and Matt’s Monday night dinner.
A Sloppy Joe Sandwich, at its most traditional and basic, is a tomato-based sauce of ground beef, brown sugar, ketchup and veggies. For my vegan sloppy joes, I eliminated the ground beef and replaced it with a mixture of slightly mashed chickpeas and lentils. I kept the sauce simple and standard, but added a couple more layers of flavor with paprika and a splash of vinegar. The whole sauce comes together in under 25 minutes, and then, all there’s left to do is add the buns and any desire toppings (which is 100% optional). So there you go; a classic childhood favorite of mine, ready in under 30 minutes, that caters to meat-eaters and meat-freers alike! Thanks for the inspo, Mom!
Vegan Sloppy Joe Sandwiches
Serves: 4-6 Start to Finish: 30 minutes
1 tablespoon Olive Oil
1 medium Onion, diced
1 medium-large Carrot, peeled and diced
3 cloves Garlic, peeled and minced
1 14-ounce can Crushed Tomatoes (or tomato sauce or puréed diced tomatoes)
1/4 cup All Natural Ketchup
3-4 tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 teaspoon each – onion powder, paprika
1 14-ounce can Organic Lentils
1 14-ounce can Organic Chickpeas
Whole Wheat Burger Buns
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Toppings (optional, I like dill pickle slices)
Heat oil over medium heat in medium-large pot. Add diced onion and carrot. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, mince garlic.
After 5 minutes, add garlic to onions and carrots. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Add tomatoes, ketchup, brown sugar*, vinegar and seasonings to pot. I used 1.5 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper.** Stir to combine. Cover and reduce to simmer. Simmer for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, drain and rinse lentils and chickpeas. Using a pastry cutter or a fork, partially mash in a bowl (the lentils will tend to stay whole). After sauce has simmered for about 5 minutes, add lentils and chickpeas, stir to combine. Simmer covered for another 5 minutes. Serve on buns with desired toppings.
*I used 3 tbs brown sugar but sweeten to taste
** As always, salt to taste