Years ago, I dabbled in lentils. Indian spiced lentils, lentil burgers, lentil chili…all lentils all the time. One of my favorite recipes at the time was for “Snobby Joes,” or, sloppy joes made with lentils in place of ground beef. They were–they are–fantastic. Smoky and sweet and comforting while also remaining healthy and vegetarian.
If you like lentils, by all means–go ahead and make this recipe for lentil sloppy joes. Truth is, they sop up all the flavor of the spiced tomato sauce, so you’ll be left with very little earthy, lentil flavor. But if you’re not one hundred percent digging the idea of making a lentil-only dish, or if you’re just getting your family into the world of vegetarian options, this is a recipe to help you take a step in that direction.
*Similarly, if the very thought of lentils disgusts you, feel free to use all beef in this recipe.
Using half beef, half lentils means fewer calories, less fat, and lots more fiber. And, you’ll keep that lovable beefy flavor intact.
Beef and Lentil Sloppy Joes
1 cup uncooked green lentils
4 cups water
½ lb extra lean (90%) ground beef
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
15 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
Put the lentils in a small sauce pot and pour in 4 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.
About 10 minutes before the lentils are done boiling, set a large frying pan over medium heat. Saute the ground beef and onion for about 7 minutes, crumbling with a spatula as you cook, until the beef is no longer pink. Add the garlic and saute a minute more. Add the cooked lentils, the chili powder, oregano and salt and mix. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for about 10 minutes.
Add the brown sugar and mustard and heat through. Turn the heat off and let sit for about 10 minutes, so that the flavors can blend. Serve on bulky rolls.