Messy Meals

I decided to go wild and crazy. I decided to take things in the dinner department back to school cafeteria circa 1996. I went with sloppy joe’s. Does anyone else remember that golden MK & Ashley movie, It Takes Two, with Steve Guttenberg, in which the spoiled rich twin has never had a sloppy joe. When presented with this heap of steaming gooey goodness on a bun she goes bananas. The girl chows down like some kind of feral animal. It was probably my favorite movie for a solid year, this scene included. My own sloppy joe passion skyrocketed. I could not be silenced. My lovely mamma, who had never made the rather unrefined sandwiches for our family, took pity on my kitchen inaptitude and decided to rotate in the joe’s in place of the normal Sunday taco lunch. She bought a can of that “manwich” stuff and we ate the joe’s, me with such exuberance and excitement. BUT the reality of the sloppy joe, the soggy, gloppy mess of the meal that is, wasn’t quite as magnificent asI had imagined, this coming from a girl who still finds food on her clothes more often than not.I guess my sloppy joe voice was peacefully abandoned in favor of our routine tacos. Plus MK & Ash had new movies coming out, full of french food and ice cream cones……I’m not sure why I got to thinking about this memory. Perhaps it’s the rate at which time is progressing that has me in a sort-of nostalgic mood. But for some reason, the tale of the sloppy joe took front and center in my brain and I felt this old sandwich deserved its due attention in the Buchanan-Layda apartment. Of course, I am not one to go the easy route. No canned sandwich mix for this house. Instead I scoured the internet for some alternative sloppy joe’s to satisfy the craving and keep up with my now vegetarian lifestyle. Enter the vegan lentil sloppy joe. Of course, these are meat-free, and quite a bit less sloppy than that runny ground beef version of years past, but with all the bad press on pink slime and the relative instability of the meat industry today, maybe a little vegan swap here and there is beyond timely. This recipe is simple to make but a bit more complicated to assemble. Next time (and there will be a next time) I plan to double the tomato sauce the recipe calls for so that my joe’s retain that mess I so (un)pleasantly remember. Aside from that flavor here is high and your apartment/house will retain that warm lentil smell that is almost as good as freshly baked cookies in my opinion at least. Plus this yields enough for some serious leftovers. Lentil repurposing, here I come.

Lentil “Sloppy Joe’s” [adapted from this site]

1 cup green or brown lentils

3 tablespoons garlic

1/2 large onion, diced

2 cups tomato sauce [I used Trader Joe's marinara]

5 tablespoons Goya Sofrito tomato cooking sauce

1 tablespoon Cayenne

Salt + Pepper to taste

Cook lentils according to package. Meanwhile sauté onion and garlic in large sauce pan. Once onions have browned, add tomato sauce and Goya sauce + spices and stir. Bring to low boil. Transfer sauce to lentil mixture and continue to stir over a low heat. Garnish with salt and pepper and serve sloppy joe style in a bun with melted cheese!

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