One of the best things for me about making all of our meals from scratch is the ability to control the ingredient content - like the ability to avoid soy in every stinking thing we eat. To my surprise, there is a vegan soy free soy sauce available to those who are trying to avoid soy because of a soy allergy or thyroid issues. This product is available at my local grocery store in the nature's marketplace section of the store and is called Liquid Aminos, made by Bragg's, certified non-gmo and organic. If you are looking for a soy alternative I would highly recommend this product. It tastes nearly identical to soy sauce and has brought homemade chinese food back into my life.
Anyway, this recipe is just one version of sloppy joe's that I make in my house. I also do a version with quinoa and pinto beans. But I changed it up with lentils this time around.
A word about lentils - cook them too fast, or with too little liquid or with the wrong liquid, and you will get crunchy beans. My advice in any lentil recipe is to cook your lentils first all the way through, a 2:1 ration of stock or water to lentils, and then prepare it the rest of the way to finish. If you cook them too long you get mush. But in this recipe, they will not go mushy with the extra 10 minutes or so in the sauce, because they are being cooked in a tomato based sauce which is acidic. The acid prevents the lentil from breaking down further. Cooking lentils in an acid based liquid will prevent them from ever getting soft enough to enjoy (believe me I have learned my lesson on that one). Trust me, cook them first for 20-25 minutes with no flare, then do the doctoring at the end and you will get the perfect lentil every time.
You can serve these sloppy joe's on hamburger buns, hot dog buns, over rice or however you want to eat them.
Lentil Sloppy Joes
• 3 cups vegetable stock or water
• 11⁄2 cups dried green or brown lentils
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1 red bell pepper, chopped
• 1 tablespoon chili powder
• 1 - 8-ounce can tomato sauce
• 2 tablespoons soy sauce (I use Aminos soy free soy sauce for a soy free version)
• 2-3 tablespoons brown sugar (depends on how much sweet flavor you want)
• 1 1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar
• 1 teaspoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
• salt to taste
1. Cook the lentils in the stock or water for 20 minutes-30 minutes. Drain.
2. While the lentils are cooking, start preparing the sloppy joe sauce. Chop your onion, and peppers.
3. Heal oil in a pot big enough to hold the lentils once you need to add them. Add the onions and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until onions soften slightly, about 5 minutes.
4. Add the chili powder and mix in well. Add the tomato sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, worcestershire sauce, and sugar. Mix well, bring to a boil.
5. Now add the drained lentils. Bring to a boil and reduce to low, simmer about 10 minutes.
6. Adjust seasonings to taste in the end - salt, sugar, pepper, etc.
Serve on whole-wheat buns with whatever else you like to put on these. Serve with potato salad, pasta salad and cooked veggies.
This is a great year round dinner as well and freezes well if you have more than you can eat the first time around.