02/10/2014 10:52 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How to Make the Best Meatless Sloppy Joes

Every other Thursday on Food52Gena Hamshaw of the blog Choosing Raw shares satisfying, flavorful recipes that also happen to be vegan.

Today: For game day, feed your vegan friends these spicy, hearty, lentil-based sloppy Joes. Because they deserve something a little more special than chips and salsa. 

We’ve all had veggie burgers. Heck, we’ve had many of them. A vegan spin on sloppy Joes, however? This may be your first. 

Confession: These were my first sloppy Joes, too. I’d tried vegan sloppy Joes at a restaurant once, made with tofu, and they were a little too sloppy. The memory persisted, and I avoided making my own as a result. Recently, though, I resolved to try my hand at a lentil version, and oh, what a difference that made!

Lentils are a perfect base for this meatless recipe: They’ve got protein and texture, they absorb flavor nicely, and they cook up fast. They’re a cheap, nutritious, and flavorful base for this classic comfort food. 

Needless to say, these Joes come just in time for game day. Serve them up on hearty, whole grain buns with whatever toppings you like -- my favorites include pickles, grilled onions, sauerkraut, avocado slices, and radishes. The recipe has plenty of flavor as it is, but a dash of Tabasco or sriracha will fire it up a little more.

Vegan Lentil Sloppy Joes

1 cup brown or green lentils, soaked for a few hours (or overnight) and rinsed

2 to 3 cups water

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup white or yellow onion, chopped

1 green or red bell pepper, chopped (about 3/4 to 1 cup)

1 clove garlic, minced

2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon mustard powder, dried

One 15-ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes (I like the Muir Glen brand)

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tablespoon organic brown sugar or maple syrup

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, to taste

1/4 teaspoon black pepper (or to taste)

1/2 cup vegetable broth (or more as needed)

6 whole wheat buns

Toppings of choice (Tabasco sauce, sriracha, pickles, onions, sauerkraut, coleslaw, avocado slices, etc.) 

See the full recipe (and save and print it) on Food52.

Photos by James Ransom. 

This article originally appeared on Sloppy Joes, Veganized

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