Vegan Sloppy Joes

I'll start with a confession. I've never had a real sloppy joe. Meat is not my thing, especially the canned variety, but I like the idea of a meal that's hearty, flavorful, and dirt cheap. Dried beans are the vegetarian equivalent of ground meats in the price department. It only takes small quantities of beans to fill hungry tummies with protein and fiber. My vegan sloppy joe recipe uses dried lentils, which cost around 50 cents per cup. With the help of a few pantry staples and a crock pot, the lentils morph into a richly flavored meal. It requires a little bit of advanced planning working with dried beans, but otherwise this meal is easy to put together and your wallet will thank you. Eat it the traditional way as a sandwich (detailed instructions below) or by itself with rice and veggies on the side, which is how Merle ate it.

Vegan Sloppy Joes
Serves 4

1 onion, diced
4 stalks of celery, diced
2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp seasoning salt
1 Tbsp soy sauce
8 oz tomato paste
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp spicy brown mustard
4 cups water
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup dried lentils

In a crock pot/slow cooker, combine the dried lentils with 3 cups of water. Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours.

Once the lentils are cooked (or the next day), add the remaining ingredients to the crock pot and stir to combine. Again cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. Serve hot.

See I told you it was easy! :)

Now here's how you make this recipe even better.

The Sloppy Joe Sandwich Perfected
Serves 1

1 Amoroso roll (or your favorite hoagie/sandwich roll)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp vegan mayo
2-3 tsp hot sauce
+Sloppy joe filling

In a small skillet, heat the olive oil and garlic powder over medium heat. When the garlic becomes fragrant (about one minute), lay the opened roll face down. Toast for one to two minutes. Remove the roll from the stove and put it on the desired serving plate. Spread the mayo and then the hot sauce on the interior of the roll. Top with sloppy joe filling  and enjoy immediately.

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