We're into that frustrating time of year when it's finally warm (high of 77 today!) but very little is ready for harvest. The only thing that Epicurious' Peak Season map lists for PA in April is asparagus, and while I do enjoy asparagus, that's not enough to get me excited yet. As soon as the weather turns warm, I tend to think, "Yay, tomatoes! Corn! Zucchini!" until I realize all those things are still several months away. Boo.
So for now, I'm still trying to cook with frozen and canned ingredients, and I spotlight one or two non-local ingredients if I have to. Earlier in the week, I experimented with a vegetarian version of sloppy joes with pretty satisfying results. Basically, I took this Recipezaar idea and tweaked it with some users' modifications and my own. The texture was remarkably similar to ground beef, and I could see doubling the recipe to serve it at a larger gathering sometime. It was just enough to get me amped up for picnic weather!
You will need:
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups dried lentils (I used brown), picked over and rinsed
- 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 cups water
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce
- 1 Tbsp prepared mustard
- 1/4 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup barbeque sauce (OMG Jack Daniel's mmmm)
- 8-oz can tomato sauce
- 1/2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1 dried chipotle pepper (opt. but recommended)
- Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat; add the onion and bell pepper. Cover and cook 6-8 minutes, until softened but not browned.
- Transfer the mixture to a slow cooker. Then add the lentils and all remaining ingredients; stir to combine.
- Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours. Serve on hamburger buns.
When I first made this recipe, I was disappointed by how "soupy" it turned out. However, now in September of 2010, I edited the ingredient list and was much happier with the results. Omitting one cup of water and adding one cup of tomato sauce produced a much thicker sauce and a more authentic feel. The chipotle imparted a smoky background note without making it spicy. I'm ten times happier with the second version than I was with the first!
As long as the mustard and barbeque sauce you use are vegan, this dish can be, too!
P.S. You can tell from the photo that I set a carton of milk on top of the burger buns in my grocery cart. Oops.