Vegetarian Sloppy Joe (Grilled Cheese Edition)

You can put these on a hamburger bun like a regular sloppy joe if you want to. You can eat them with no bread, if that’s your jam. You can also make them 1/2 meat and 1/2 lentil. Or add a can of beans if you’re low on lentils. Or you can make them all meat. I like lentils. I don’t like ground beef.

But I am here to tell you that making these into a grilled cheese is the best decision ever.

They’re melty and cheesy and sloppy joe-y (is that a word?).

If you don’t know lentils, they are a similar (notice I said similar and not identical) texture to meat, and are super easy to make. They are also around $1.50 per pound versus about $6 per pound for ground beef (prices obviously depending on where you live). And one pound of lentils is more than enough for dinner for a family of 6, or a meal, and 2 leftover meals for 2 people.

If your family is unsure about lentils, try half and half for the first time!

Just, please make sure you pick through them a bit. Sometimes there are twigs and pebbles in them, just like in rice. Up until I made this batch I had never found any non-lentil material, but I always check and this time I found a twig! After you pick through them, just toss them in a strainer and rinse them off!

Here’s the printable recipe card!

Vegetarian Sloppy Joe (Grilled Cheese Edition)
Recipe Type: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Sam (Sizzling Mess)
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 pound lentils (1 regular package), picked through and rinsed
  • Water (as per lentil package instructions)
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon steak seasoning (I like Weber’s Chicago Steak)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • To Make 6 Sandwiches
  • 6 teaspoons butter
  • 12 slices of bread
  • 6 slices cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Start by sorting and washing your lentils. To do this, you’ll want to just grab a small handful at a time and inspect it for anything that isn’t a lentil. If it’s not a lentil, throw it away. Then put them in a colander/strainer to wash them. Cook according to package directions.
  2. Peel and dice a small onion, and mince a medium-sized garlic clove. Heat up your butter in a large pan until melted and then toss the onion into the pan and sauté it until the onions are tender and slightly browned. This is an important step. It takes a little while, but it’s worth it. Then toss in the garlic until soft and fragrant.
  3. Add your cooked lentils into the pan, and mix them around with the onion and garlic.
  4. Immediately pour your tomato sauce and paste, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, and seasoning in with the onions and garlic and lentils, mix together thoroughly. Let simmer 5-10 minutes.
  5. At this point you can serve them on buns, or you can make them into grilled cheese. To make the grilled cheeses, get a clean pan and melt 1 teaspoon of butter into it. Place one slice of bread in and a piece of cheese, followed by lentil filling and topped with the other slice of bread. Make sure it doesn’t stick by sliding your spatular underneath periodically. Then once it’s nice and brown, flip the sandwich over and do the same to the other side. Repeat until all sandwiches are done!
Notes
I used to get the squeeze tubes of tomato paste because I hate wasting it, but they kept exploding in my fridge. So now I buy the cans and use what I need and then freeze the rest for next time! That way I don’t feel bad about wasting any.[br][br]Your lentil package probably has a few different times on it. Cook it to the first time and then taste them. If they are too tough, cook them more. Some people like them tough, some don’t.

 

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