As satisfying as any kind of burger meal, these vegan barbecue-flavored lentil sloppy joes are ready fast if the lentils are cooked ahead of time.
Use canned lentils to save time: You also have the option of using canned lentils, because why not? Sometimes saving even 20 or 25 minutes can be a lifesaver when it comes to getting dinner on the table. But if you prefer cooking lentils from scratch, see some tips following the recipe box.
Vary the breads or use as a grain topping: You can use small ciabatta breads, burger buns, English muffins, or any type of roll you’d like. Spoon this filling into lettuce leaves, or use no bread at all. This is a great topping for rice or other grains, too.
Complete the meal: Complete the meal with a recipe-free sauté of golden potatoes and broccoli and quartered small tomatoes. Another option is to serve these lentil sloppy joes with a simple slaw or green salad and baked or microwaved sweet potato.
And one more menu idea: most any steamed green vegetable goes well with this hearty dish; and you can also accompany with a platter of raw veggies and a dip, like Dreamy Tahini-Dill Dip.
A Little About Lentils
These small, peppery legumes cook quickly without soaking. Brown (or green) lentils are widely known in this country, but tiny red lentils, a staple in Indian cuisine, are also excellent. they’re a bit milder in flavor and cook up faster than larger lentils.
Other varieties include de puy lentils and black beluga lentils, which add visual interest to many types of dishes, but are harder to come by.
No matter what the variety, lentils are a plant-based protein bargain. At nearly 25 percent protein, they’re also full of minerals, including iron, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc. Like other legumes, they’re a good source of many B vitamins. Learn more about the benefits of lentils.
And get some tips on how to cook lentils following the recipe box.
Sauce (or see shortcut under Notes)
- 1 cup tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes
- 1 to 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce or tamari
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon barbecue seasoning (see Note)
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 6 to 8 ounces cremini or white mushrooms, cleaned, stemmed, and chopped
- 3 cups cooked lentils or two 15-ounce cans lentils, drained and rinsed
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- Dried hot red pepper flakes or sriracha to taste, optional
- Burger buns, small ciabatta breads, or English muffins (toasted if desired)
- Veggies (use any or all): shredded lettuce, grated carrots, thinly sliced onion
- Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onion and sauté over low heat until golden.
- Add the mushrooms. Cover and cook over medium heat until wilted, about 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the lentils and sauce. Add a few grindings of pepper and optional hot stuff.
- Bring to a simmer, then cook over low heat, uncovered, for 10 minutes, or until everything is piping hot, the flavors melded. The liquid should be thickened and enveloping the lentils and mushrooms nicely.
- For each serving, spoon some of the filling onto the bread of your choice. Top with any of the suggested veggies. Serve open-faced or closed.
Here’s a shortcut to make an already easy dish crazy-easy — skip making this sauce and use 1 1/4 cups of your favorite natural barbecue sauce.
You’ll find barbecue seasonings in the spice section of your supermarket. They come in a variety of flavors like mesquite and smoky maple and add an intriguing flavor and aroma to hearty dishes. One prominent brand is McCormick.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 211Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 154mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 12gSugar: 18gProtein: 15g
Nutrition data is always an estimate depending on program used to calculate and exact products used. This is given for informational purposes only and accuracy cannot be guaranteed.
How to cook lentils
Unlike many other legumes, lentils don’t need to be presoaked. Rinse them and check for small stones.
Combine lentils with water in a large saucepan, using 2 1/2 parts water to 1 part lentils (i.e., 2 1/2 cups water per 1 cup lentils). Bring to a slow boil, then reduce the heat to low and cover to let the lentils simmer, leaving the lid ajar.
Add more water if needed. Lentils don’t need to absorb all the water they’re cooked in, so you can always drain excess liquid off.
Brown or green lentils take about 30 minutes to cook. It’s best to stop the cooking process when they’re just tender but still hold their shape. Beluga and de puy lentils might take slightly less time. Red lentils take 15 minutes or less, and cook to a mushy, so plan on using them as a base for soups and stews.
No matter what kind of lentils you’re cooking, check them from time to time and and add more water if need be, but don’t stir too much. Drain any excess water.
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Photos (top and middle): bhofack22/Bigstock