loaded vegetarian lentil sloppy joes

I made this recipe on a whim last week and decided it was way too tasty not to share.  The only problem was that it finished cooking around 8:30pm and there was obviously no light left to take photos. Yes, we eat dinner late.


I perused a few standard sloppy joe recipes and a recipe I made awhile back for slow cooker sloppy joes [this version is so much better!] before getting started.  I didn't really write anything down as I cooked but just tasted and added along the way.  Once I finally deemed it done I was kicking myself in the rear for not taking notes.

The next day I wrote down approximate amounts and ingredients knowing that I absolutely had to make it again.


I waited to give it another go until I was at home and could cook up a double batch for my last family dinner.  Thankfully, I think I remembered my creation from that night almost exactly, which is surprising given my awful memory.  And with this version I added a few toppings that sent this sandwich from super tasty to freaking delicious.

The topping ideas came from a local restaurant we head to a few times a month called, Hops & Pie.  They specialize in pizza but have quite the variety on their menu including numerous GF and vegan options.  They have house-smoked tofu, vegan cheese options, GF pizza, vegan mac n' cheese, GF quinoa pasta, and more.  My very favorite menu item is the Vegan Sloppy Jane, served on the best gluten-free bun I've ever had--which reminds me I need to ask them the brand!  They use tempeh in their version and add a nice pile of house-made pickles underneath everything.  Never would have thought to try that combo!  And the caramelized onions seal the deal.


I had to get creative while taking photos at home since I was without my stack of 20 random plates to choose from.  I wanted something fairly plain and contrasting in color.  My parents' plates are pretty busy, so I searched the cupboards high + low.  

And then...jackpot!  A mini pan from their toaster oven.  It was the perfect "plate" to house this gigantic, sprawling meal.


Print this!

Loaded Vegetarian Lentil Sloppy Joes

gluten-free, vegan // yields 6-8 servings

  • 1 cup uncooked black lentils
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, or ghee
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 med-large chopped carrot
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons mild chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1, 15oz can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1-1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1/2-1 cup low/no sodium vegetable broth
  • salt/pepper, to taste
  • pickles and caramelized onions, to top
  1. Pick over dried lentils for debris then rinse well and place in a pot with cold water and bring to a low boil.
  2. Reduce heat to simmer with a lid cracked for 18-25 minutes until lentils are al dente [tender with a slight bite].  These cooking instructions are for small black lentils (solid black and shiny).  Not all lentils cook this quickly.
  3. Drain and rinse with cold water.
  4. While lentils are cooking heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.
  5. Once hot add the onions, sprinkle with salt, and cook stirring frequently until translucent and tender, about 6-8 minutes.
  6. Add the carrot and let cook another 2-3 minutes
  7. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and a few good grinds of black pepper and stir for 30 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant.
  8. Slowly pour in the tomatoes and tomato paste and stir to combine.
  9. Stir in the apple cider vinegar, maple syrup, and 1/2 cup vegetable broth then bring to a simmer.  Add more broth to thin out.
  10. Stir in 3 cups of cooked lentils and simmer for 15-25 minutes until thickened and the flavor is to your liking.  Add more salt + pepper as needed or cayenne for some heat.
  11. Place pickles on the bottom of a hamburger bun, then scoop the sloppy joe mixture on top, and then top with caramelized onions and the top bun.
  12. Eat with a fork + knife.  This gets messy!

to caramelize onions:

  1. Thinly slice a large yellow or red onion and then heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil or ghee a large pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion stirring frequently until just softened, 5-7 minutes.
  3. Generously sprinkle with salt, stir, then reduce heat to med-low for about 25+ minutes until fully golden brown and caramelized.  Stir every few minutes.

to freeze:

  • Let cool to room temp then place 1-2 servings in a freezer bag and squeeze excess air out.  Flatten with your hand on the counter and place flat in the freezer, stacking if you have multiple bags. Let thaw in the fridge the day before you want to eat or for a few hours on the counter.  Reheat in a pot on the stove until hot.

notes/substitutions: Feel free to use 3 cups of pre-cooked black lentils instead of boiling your own.


Pretty easy to whip up.  A filling + comforting crowd pleaser.  A cinch to double.  Killer leftovers.  Easy to freeze.  And it tastes pretty great, too.

Do I need to convince you further?


operation: eat your veggies

The veggies are slowly dwindling from my fridge.  If you missed it, I got hit with a mother-load from Door to Door Organics.  I went shopping the same day and stocked up, then found the plentiful box of delicious GREEN on my doorstep. 

Not a problem in this house, but I can’t let any of it go to waste.

So currently, I am running operation: eat your veggies!!!

If you don’t like veggies, I wouldn’t advise coming for a visit! [Jessica, I am talking to you!!]

Now let’s get started.

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Lunch Part I:

  • 1/2 head lacinato/dinosaur kale
  • 1/2 cucumber

Paired with: Creamy Smoked Salad Dressing [one of my favs!]

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Lunch Part II:

Just as delicious in stir-fry form!

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I have a lot of them.

Specifically, pickling cucumbers.  You know, for pickling!!

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The nice thing about pickling cucumbers is that they last a few weeks longer than if you just eat them from the fridge.


And pickles are freaking delicious.

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You can pickle so many other things besides cucumbers.  Practically any vegetable.  And you don’t have to have pickling cucumbers either.  I do prefer them, but use a long English cucumber otherwise.

Here’s what I had on hand to pickle:

  • pickles, duh
  • banana peppers [amazing on veggie sandwiches, stuffed in a grilled cheese, on salads or pizza!]
  • hot pepper

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If you want a basic recipe for pickles, check out my Salt + Pepper Garlic Pickles.

You can also find, Pickled Banana Peppers, in that post as well.  Want to get more creative?  I have FIVE pickling recipes in this post, from last summer!

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And better than links to all my old posts, I have a new recipe for you as well!  The kind + generous Kelsey, invited us over for dinner again.  Man do I love her.  Somehow, she always knows when I’m having an extremely busy day and have no time to cook.

What better way to thank her, than bring her some of my fridge contents!

In pickle form of course.

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Kelsey’s Zesty Pickle Mix

  • 28-32oz jar + lid
  • 1 hot pepper
  • 2 large banana peppers
  • 2 large pickling cucumbers
  • 3/4c distilled white vinegar
  • 1T fine grain, kosher sea salt
  • 1T peppercorns
  • 1/4t red pepper flakes
  • 2 large cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • water
  1. De-seed peppers + slice into 1/8” rounds.
  2. Slice cucumbers into 1/8” rounds.
  3. Add peppers + cucumbers to jar, pour in vinegar and fill to just below the top of the jar with water.
  4. Add salt, peppercorns, pepper flakes and garlic.
  5. Screw lid on + gently turn a few times.
  6. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4-6hrs before eating.  They will last about 2 weeks in the fridge.

*I used a med-hot pepper for the hot pepper.  1 seeded jalapeno will work, or whatever you like.

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Another way to show thanks to Kelsey?

Empty out the fridge a little more, by providing the salad greens!!  Goodbye 2 mini green leaf lettuce heads.  You were so delicious!

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Kelsey spent hours preparing an amazing lasagna feast.  She was super kind + used brown rice lasagna noodles for my no-gluten-eating self.  They were delicious!!  No need to pre-cook.  You couldn’t tell a difference between regular lasagna noodles at all.

I brought over my daylight bulbs + light clamps, so Kelsey could get some shots for her blog.  She was excited!

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And I was excited to dig in to this cheesy deliciousness.  I think she’ll have the recipe up sometime soon!??

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And that my friends, is how you go through a LOT of veggies in just ONE day.