Take a burger break and enjoy healthy vegan lentil sloppy joes with crunchy, fresh cilantro lime slaw. This fun recipe comes together in one-pot with a quick 10-minute (or less) slaw that takes those sloppy joes from memory into a more sophisticated present.
Get that pot of vegan lentil sloppy joes going - stat!
I’m a huge fan of one-pot concoctions. Even if the ingredients need to simmer for awhile it all seems quicker if I don’t have a big conglomeration of pans waiting to be scrubbed. One-pot doesn’t mean just dumping in all the ingredients in a pot, simmering and calling it good. It all comes back to layering. Adding ingredients to build flavor in an order that makes sense. I went in depth about this concept when I shared my kidney bean curry, so check it out if you want a more thorough explanation. Point being, we’re going to go through a quick process of adding a few ingredients, cooking and adding some more.
In the case of vegan lentil sloppy joes, we’re not talking a lot of layers or ingredients. Let’s go build it, in a few easy steps.
The three-step, quick layer
I’ve boiled this down to three easy steps. We start by sautéing the chopped onion and red pepper. I purposely used red bell pepper because I like a sweeter sloppy joe. If you use a green pepper, that’s no problem. If you want it a bit sweeter, add another tablespoon of maple syrup toward the end of the cooking process. Another reason to love adding peppers to the initial sauté is that they add moisture to our oil free sautéing. Of course, if your veggies start to stick, which happens if you get the heat too high, just add a tablespoon of water or two.
I added a tiny step two because we always want to add our garlic a bit late in the sauté to keep it from burning and tasting bitter. This is also a great time to add the spices which are exactly two – cumin and smoked paprika.
Step three is where we get to toss everything else in the pot. That would be the tomato sauce and paste, the maple syrup, the vegan Worcestershire sauce (I’m coming to that in a minute), the lentils and water. I know what you might say at this point – are you serious? One cup of lentils? No way! To this I reply “yes” and “don’t be as skeptical as I was when I first tried it”. Yes, skeptic here, I had to stop myself from adding another cup of lentils the first time I tried this. I remained unconvinced until the bitter end (in about 30 minutes) I was at sloppy joes.
My cooking tips and observations
I’ve noticed about cooking lentils is that they will take longer to get tender in a tomato sauce (or other thick sauce) as compared to cooking them in water. A thick sauce is a bit insulting and water allows lentils to move more freely. This isn’t a problem, but something to consider. You’ll want to allow 30 or even 35 minutes for the lentils to get tender in your sauce.
Have you ever cooked a tomato-based sauce and ended up with tomato splattered all over? This really annoys me, so I used a large soup pot to make the sloppy joe lentil filling. That way, I avoid an unnecessary mess. I use over-sized pots for simmering all my thick sauces as well as lentils, rice and even pasta.
Quick cilantro lime slaw
When I was a kid, I loved the sloppy joe filling smashed between two buns, but that was then and well, I wanted to make this a bit of a grown-up meal. That’s not to say that I wanted to spend any extra time. Nope, not a minute longer between me and those sloppy joes. So, stop checking the lentils, they’re cooking, and we all know about those watched pots.
Quick cilantro lime slaw is just that. A super-fast slaw made with cabbage, carrots, cilantro and a splash of lime and rice vinegar. Do that when you first get the lentils cooking so that the slaw can marinate a bit. Want to make it even quicker (I did)? Grab a bag of pre-shredded cabbage. I like the cabbage mix with both green and purple because the color really grabs you.
Load up your vegan lentil sloppy joes
Sloppy joes are good enough with loads of lentil filling piled between buns, but I admit, the slaw turns this into a meal on its own. You get the crunch and tangy flavor of the slaw, plus the sweet tomato filling. If you happen to use hot smoked paprika, you will also get a bit of a kick. If you want a kick and don’t have the hot paprika, try adding ¼ teaspoon (or more) of cayenne pepper. That should do it.
I always get an extra level of satisfaction when I successfully put a plant-based spin on an old favorite recipe. But they are never the same. Think vegan lentil sloppy joes with quick cilantro slaw. This isn’t about what ingredients I’m no longer using such as oil or cheese. I believe it’s what happens when you approach something from the past from a new perspective. You shouldn’t expect an exact replication when you are applying an entirely different lens. If you allow it, your perspective can make your problems look bigger and the solutions not as-good-as your past outcomes. But a new perspective can cut through the thickest of sauces, making your possibilities look infinite. Peace.Print
vegan lentil sloppy joes
Take a burger break and enjoy healthy one-pot vegan lentil sloppy joes with crunchy, fresh quick cilantro lime slaw packed between your favorite bun.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 6 with bun 1x
- Category: Burgers & Wraps
- Cuisine: American
Vegan lentil sloppy joe filling
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. smoked paprika
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
- 2 Tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce (we recommend Henderson’s relish)
- 3 cups vegetable broth or water
- 1 cup dry green or brown lentils, rinsed and drained
Quick cilantro lime slaw
- 4 cups thinly sliced cabbage (about ½ a head)
- 1 cup shredded carrots
- ½ cup cilantro (coriander)
- 1 Tbsp. lime juice
- 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
6 sandwich rolls or buns (use any kind you like)
Vegan lentil sloppy joe filling
- In a large pot (to avoid splatter) add the onions and pepper and sauté them for 5 minutes until the onions start to get translucent. Add water a tablespoon at a time if the veggies start to stick.
- Add the minced garlic, 1 tsp. cumin and 1 tsp. smoked paprika, stir and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Add the tomato sauce, tomato paste, maple syrup, vegan Worcestershire sauce, vegetable broth and lentils. Stir everything and bring the pot to simmer. Cover and simmer until the lentils are tender (about 30 minutes). Check the pot every 10 minutes or so and give everything a stir. Add more water ½ cup at a time if the lentils need more time to cook.
Quick cilantro lime slaw
- Add the cabbage, carrots, cilantro, lime juice and rice vinegar in a medium bowl. Mix everything and allow the flavors to combine while the lentils cook.
- Be sure to mix the slaw a few times after you make it, so the lime juice and vinegar don’t just sit at the bottom of the bowl.
Make it a meal
- Once the lentils are done, lightly toast the buns (if desired). Serve the lentil sloppy joe mixture over on half the bun and add the slaw on top.
- Garnish with pickled jalapenos if desired.
- Nutritional information includes the sloppy joe filling, cilantro lime slaw and bun.
- If you want to make a quick version of this recipe, you can use canned lentils. Use 2 cans (about 4 cups). Rinse and drain the lentils and follow the recipe instructions but eliminate the 3 cups of broth or water. Simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the tomato sauce to cook down a bit.
- Brown or green lentils work best for this recipe, but you can also use French lentils. I would avoid red lentils as they will become a bit to mushy and make the final consistency a bit runny.
- We love quick cilantro lime slaw on everything from sandwiches to tacos. You can add a small red onion diced or ¼ cup sliced green onions if you want an extra punch. If you like your slaw sweeter, add 2 teaspoons of agave syrup or another liquid sweetener. You’ll want to mix this in a small bowl with the lime juice and rice vinegar before pouring it over the slaw ingredients, so it covers everything equally.
Keywords: vegan lentil sloppy joes