I first made these lentil sloppy joes when I was cooking for Alouette. This was the fourth day on set and it was possibly the most well-received meal I had made. The hardcore meat lovers were so ecstatic about it that they didn’t complain when they had the leftovers (I had made a MASSIVE pot of it that used an entire bag of lentils) for breakfast and lunch the following day.
They have a rich baked-bean flavour: robust, sweet, yet savory. They have the perfect softness and messiness that traditional Sloppy Joes need. They’re filling and full of great protein and fibre (as lentils are apt to do), but they don’t weigh you down with that drowsy kind of full that makes you want to just lie on the couch while your body processes the amount of food you just ate.
It’s a filling that’s comforting, warming, and yet you feel light enough to go for a nice walk (even in these temperatures).
I originally was going to make some walnut-crusted baked tofu when Chris came to visit me for Valentine’s because it’s a little more sophisticated in terms of dinner. You know, using a fork, and knife, and civilized-type food and stuff. But Chris and I aren’t the type of couple that flourishes in those sort of fancy environments. We like super hero movies (we watched Robo-Cop), terrible (or awesome..?) puns, and messy, fingerlickin’ food.
The first day Chris came, we went to Chipotle’s for lunch and had some tacos and guacamole. It was a messy and delicious time. Day two, I made these sloppy joes and it was again, a hands-on, lip-smacking kind of dinner with a mug of beer.
Super romantic, right?
I like to think so.
Now I made these lentil sloppy joes with Rickard’s Red, a robust dark ale with a hint of sweetness complemented by a woody bitterness. I’m not typically a fan of dark beers, but I really loved the complexity the beer gave to the lentils. However, if you prefer not to cook with booze, feel free to substitute the liquid with vegetable broth. That’s how I made it for the cast and crew of Alouette and they loved it.
If you want to make these for a St. Patty’s themed meal, I think Guinness to replace the water/beer would be really interesting. The dark, sweetness of Guinness would marry well with molasses. Chris doesn’t typically enjoy Guinness, so I didn’t try it, but if you do, please let me know how it works out.
For my fellow Canucks, Happy Family Day! For everyone else, just have a nice ol’ Monday =)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 3 tbsp brown sugar
- 3 tbsp molasses
- 3 tbsp tamari (buy GF-labelled one to keep GF)
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1½ cups puréed canned tomatoes (alternatively you can use tomato sauce or tomato soup)
- 3 cups dark ale* (I used Rickard's Red, or you can just use vegetable broth)
- 2 cups water (or vegetable broth)
- 1½ cup green lentils lentils, picked through and rinsed
- Hamburger buns (use gluten-free if you need to)
- Crunchy veggies like carrots and celery to contrast the texure
- Sauté chopped onions over medium heat with olive oil until translucent. Meanwhile, in another bowl, whisk together brown sugar, molasses, tamari, and garlic powder. Once onions are cooked, add brown sugar mixture, canned tomatoes, beer, water, and lentils and cover.
- Once the mixture is bubbling, lower to minimum heat, cover and continue cooking, stirring occasionally until the lentils have absorbed all the water and are thickened, at least 45 minutes. You may need to add more water and cook longer in case the lentils are still hard. On a gas stove, this took me around 45 minutes, on a coil stove, I probably cooked for another 20 minutes.
- Serve on toasted hamburger buns with veggies and a glass of chilled beer =)