As I peer out my second story window, I come face to face with dollops of snow teetering off the spindly conifer outside. If you were to take your imagination out for a ride for a moment, they may look like creamy vanilla ice cream scoops, ready for the licking before they precariously drop to the ground. But then a chill sneaks through the cracks of my, old, cracked drafty windows and reality sets it.
No worries. That is why there are winter stews. When you can’t have summer, have stews. Or in this case, stew in the form of vegan lentil sloppy joes. Hearty foods are necessary to boost moral during these cold winter months.
These lentils are packed with iron and B vitamins. They are healthy, easy to prepare in bulk for the week and are less expensive and more interesting than most meat dishes I have tried lately. I was dying for sloppy joes but have not been into ground meat lately so the development of this particular recipe came out of both intrigue and necessity.
After many tweaks these really hit the spot! They remind me of being a kid. They remind me of my Aunt Jo and her famous sloppy joes. They remind me a bit of Manwich at a friend’s house after the pool. They are fun to eat, savory, laced with a touch of brown sugar for sweetness and can be eaten on a bun or out of a jar. One of my students couldn’t stop dipping into my crockpot after the faculty luncheon. She calls it, “the sauce.” “Do you have more of the sauce today?!” They have to be a win if a teenager is smitten with them.
The work of these lentils is made infinitely easier when made in the InstaPot, which has been an indispensable item for me the last few years. Begin with a light saute of the vegetables right in the pot, pour everything in, turn on and then the rest of the ingredients simmer away without a lift of a finger from you. Open it at the end and add a few savory bits for umami and it is done! This recipe can also easily be made in a dutch oven or crock pot but the electric pressure cooker is just so quick and easy if you have one. Times are given for the Instapot but the recipe indicates how long to cook it in a dutch oven as well.
Served on brioche buns, potato sliders or even out of a bowl with dippy bread; these lentils are soon to be your family’s favorite. There is a reason these have been made by me three times in the last two months!
- 2 cups of rinsed green lentils, let to soak overnight or cooked until toothy but tender
- 2 cups of water
- 2 diced green pepper
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 28 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 14.4 oz can crushed tomatoes
- 4 Tbsp worchestershire sauce
- 4 Tbsp dark brown sugar
- 4 Tbsp grainy brown mustard
- 1/4 cup of red wine or 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1 Tbsp sweet paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
- 1/2-3/4 tsp salt or salt to tast
- 1 Tbsp oil for cooking
- Prepare your lentils. You can either soak them covered in water overnight and drain or cook until toothy and slightly tender in water and drain. Either way, you just want to soften them slightly.
- In your electric pressure cooker or dutch oven, saute the onion and green pepper in 1Tbsp of oil until just tender.
- Add the water, tomatoes, brown sugar, 2 Tbsp of the mustard, 2 Tbsp of the worchestershire, red wine or vinegar, sweet paprika, cayenne, and chili powder.
- If cooking in the electric pressure cooker, set to 15 minutes and wait. In the dutch oven, cook over medium heat, covered about 30 minutes and then uncovered about 10 minutes until the mixture has reduced and thickened slightly.
- When done, add the final two Tbsp of mustard and worchestershire and mix and heat through. Adding it at the end gives a bit of brightness to the dish. Add salt and adjust to taste.
- Remove from heat and serve on brioche rolls or in a bowl with spoon and bread.
Want to make these the easiest way possible? Here is the pot I use to make lunches for the week. The picture will take you to Amazon if you wish to purchase it. It is totally worth every penny. Love, Sheila