I have fond memories of the sweet and tangy sloppy joe sauce that my dad made. It was the stuff of finger licking legend. Though I don’t make my sloppy joes with ground meat, I love the hearty bite that the lentils give and the earthy balance of the portobello mushrooms. Not to brag, but I think my sloppy joe sauce is good enough to earn a place in my children’s culinary memory and in your recipe file. Only time will tell! But if clean plates and requests for seconds are any indication, I think I’m on the right track!
The real key to incredible flavor for this meal is the smoked paprika… click on it in the ingredients list and you can order it from Penzey’s if you don’t have it in your cabinet.
Lentil Sloppy Joes
This multi step process is worth the effort. You’ll be spending about an hour in the kitchen to get this done, but the batch is HUGE and makes plenty of leftovers that you can package up and bump into the freezer for a meal next week and the week after!
Using you food processor or mad knife skills, mince the following:
1 large onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 carrots, minced
4 celery stalks, minced
10 oz Portobello mushrooms, minced
Add the minced veggies to a large stockpot in which you’ve warmed a tsp of olive oil. Stir the veg while they brown and soften, about 10 minutes. They will become super fragrant.
2 cups lentils *
6-8 cups water
*(I usually use brown or green lentils, but you can use red lentils too. Reduce your liquid by a cup if you use red lentils. They cook faster, so watch your time too!)
Stir the pot and simmer for 40 minutes until the lentils are till tender and the liquid is absorbed. (If your liquid is not absorbed after 40 minutes try the quinoa/millet add in noted in the next step.)
1 cup uncooked millet or quinoa (optional, adds nutritional value & helps if your lentils are liquidy!)
7 oz jar organic tomato paste
1 cup tomato sauce
1 cup ketchup (or a 2nd cup of tomato sauce)
1 Tbsp chipotle chili powder
1 Tbsp oregano
3 Tbsp smoked paprika (This is the key to fabulous flavor!!!)
1 Tbsp cumin
1 Tbsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp prepared mustard (I used a grainy mustard that has a nice vinegar kick)
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
4 medool dates, pitted OR 1 Tbsp brown sugar (I prefer my sugars to be from whole foods, but if you don’t have dates then brown sugar will do)
If you’ve added the quinoa or millet your pot will need about 10 -15 minutes more to simmer while those seeds absorb their liquids. If you’re not using the seeds just proceed. Remove 1 cup and blend it in the food processor with the 4 pitted dates until smooth. Add back into the pot and stir to combine.
Serve your sloppy lentil ragout on a roll of your choice or just on a plate with a side of steamed broccoli and some fresh greens.
Leftovers are even better. You can also take half of your leftovers and season them with more chipotle chile and some diced tomato to make a good taco filling. Top with fresh guac, crisp lettuce and sliced peppers and you’re on your way to another easy meal.
***Check out Lentil Sloppy Joes v2 by clicking here!