Get Messy with Our Vegan Sloppy Joes

There are many recipes for vegetarian/vegan Sloppy Joe sandwiches out there, usually based around TVP (textured vegetable protein), seitan or brown lentils. At Cafe Drake HRV we prefer our Messy Joes made with tempeh. The fermented soy product is not only nutritionally dense but just the right texture, if finely minced, to these nostalgic sandwiches of childhood.

For a full retro experience, use unheated hamburger buns for Sloppy Joes. Toasted whole wheat rye bread, however, works best for us. You really only need a side salad to complete the meal. Bonus points for tater tots.

Sloppy Joe on Whole Wheat Rye, Marinated Cucumbers and Steamed Kale with Green Goddess Dressing
To begin, heat 3-4 T. olive or coconut oil in a large skillet over a medium flame. A non-stick skillet is ideal  but not essential. Add to the skillet 1 8-oz. package of tempeh (any flavor) that has been crumbled into very small pieces. You can also mince the tempeh with a knife if you prefer. Stir-fry the tempeh constantly for about 2 minutes or until you see the color changing to a golden-brown hue. Now add 1 cup each diced onion and red or yellow bell pepper. Cook until the veggies are soft and then stir in 2 cloves of minced garlic. Pour in 1 15-oz can of tomato sauce (unsalted), 1 T. tamari or soy sauce, 1 T. Worcestershire sauce, 1 t. chili powder, a large dash of sugar, a large dash of ground cloves and salt and black pepper to taste. You'll need up to 1 t. of salt to bring out the fullest flavor.

Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. The final result should be much thicker but still somewhat loose. We want them to be sloppy remember! Stir now and then. 

When ready to eat, rub both sides of a toasted roll, hamburger bun or any type of bread with yellow or Dijon mustard. The mustard is not optional; it provides the characteristic tang and bite of the traditional Sloppy Joe.Pile the tempeh mixture on and sprinkle with 1-2 T. finely chopped onions or scallions. Assemble and enjoy, with plenty of napkins at hand.


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