Yup that’s right I’m doing it. I’m taking that kind-of-kitschy down-homey Americana food – Sloppy Joe’s – and I’m doing it up all vegan and gluten-free style. I know, I’m not the first. I definitely won’t be the last. But this is definitely outside of my comfort zone because these Vegan Sloppy J’s are probably the fourth time in my entire life (meat-eating days included) that I’ve ever had any sort of variety of Sloppy Joe’s.
So why now?
Good question. I wish I knew. But at around lunch time one Monday I just was craving something like this. And so here it is.
A lot of vegan versions use just TVP or Textured Vegetable Protein. Some just use lentils. I used both. This recipe marks my very first foray into cooking with TVP. I did quite a bunch of research about TVP before deciding to buy it. I still don’t know 100% how I feel about it health-wise. There is great controversy over whether soy is good or bad. But the soy content is not really where my issue lies. After all, this is a factory-made ‘food’ and it is processed. That’s more of my concern. I feel like it’s an okay thing occasionally but I highly doubt we’ll end up eating a lot of this stuff in our day-to-day cooking. If you’re not keen on using TVP or perhaps cannot find a good source (read: gluten-free) of TVP in your area, feel free to use only lentils in this recipe. Don’t forget to omit the water and bouillon cube in the recipe too as that’s just for rehydrating and flavoring the TVP. The texture of the Sloppy J’s will be different but the flavor will still be amazing.
As for the brand of TVP to use – I chose to use Bob’s Red Mill TVP. I trust Bob’s Red Mill products and their commitment to health. (That sounds like a blatant product placement type ad but I don’t have any sort of affiliation with them. I’ve toured their factory though. And I’ve seen first-hand the care and attention that goes into ensuring that their products are gluten-free.)
You can prepare the TVP ahead of time if you like. Just make sure you refrigerate or freeze the rehydrated TVP so it keeps its freshness. If you make large batches of TVP to use as needed, the amount you’ll need for this recipe is 2 1/4 cups worth of prepared TVP. If it’s not already flavored the ‘beef’ bouillon cube can be added directly to the pan when adding the ketchup, tomato sauce and other liquids.
Speaking of sloppy … here’s a random photo of my street that was taken on April 3, 2013. That’s right. This is APRIL!
And it snowed twice since that photo. It’s a mess. We had a long, cold, snowy winter and spring so far. Now we’re finally seeing some melting, but oh, I’m so tired of it. We’re trying to clear ice and slush so that the melting snow has a place to go rather than puddling on our front sidewalk. Our crescent has such deep slushy ruts that I can barely take my little car out these past few days. Here’s hoping the melting happens fast enough to make life bearable but not so fast that we have flooding issues in low-lying parts of the city. Definitely time to have the rubber boots on though.
That picture above doesn’t even do the ruts justice. I bottomed out my Mazda 2 the day I took this photo. I ended up having to use one of our work trucks to get out of our crescent later that afternoon. Around the bend one of our neighbors had his car stuck so badly sideways in a rut that he just left his car there. We stopped to help push him out but he was nowhere to be found.
This is spring in Saskatoon people!
- 1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
- 1 onion, diced finely
- 1 bell pepper (any color), diced finely
- 1 carrot, chopped finely or grated
- 1 celery rib, chopped finely
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 14 oz can or 2 cups cooked lentils, drained and rinsed
- ⅞ cup textured vegetable protein (TVP) granules
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 cube 'beef' bouillon
- ½ cup ketchup
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 1 tablespoon Bragg's liquid soy (or coconut aminos)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (or coconut sugar)
- 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground thyme
- ½ teaspoon hot paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 12 gluten-free and vegan hamburger buns
- In a large bowl dissolve "beef" bouillon cube in boiling water. Add TVP to the bowl and stir to evenly soak up the liquid. Let sit for 10 minutes.
- Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat.
- Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, carrot and celery. Saute for about 5-7 minutes until onion begins to soften slightly.
- Add prepared TVP and lentils. Stir and let saute an additional 5 minutes.
- Add ketchup, tomato sauce, Bragg's, red wine vinegar, maple syrup, mustard and spices. Stir to combine.
- Reduce heat to low and cover. Let simmer for 15 minutes until all vegetables are tender.
- Taste for seasoning and adjust salt and pepper as needed.
- Serve hot over split gluten-free vegan hamburger buns.
Here’s a recipe for the gluten-free and vegan hamburger buns which are pictured above.
So how do you eat these? Well, they’re sloppy, that’s for sure. I ended up spooning the mixture over each half of the bun and eating it like an open-face sandwich. You could go the extra-messy route and eat this like a regular sandwich too. You could go the dainty route and use a fork and knife. You could bake a sweet potato or regular potato (or even cook up some quinoa or rice!) and serve this over top. I did that with the left overs.
Speaking of leftovers. Since this does make a lot of filling and there’s just Levi and I, I ended up saving some for dinner the next night in the fridge and froze some too. This freezes really well.
A quick word about the nutritional information listed for this recipe. I didn’t factor in the buns into the calculations. Each bun recipe is different and so it’s hard to figure that out. This recipe is a tad high in sodium. When I made this recipe I used canned lentils which have salt. If you use cooked lentils without salt then the sodium would be less, obviously. If you want less sugar then you could omit the ketchup, add another 1/2 cup tomato sauce. If you need more zippiness after switching out the ketchup then add another 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar.