2 min Read

Lentil, Zucchini and Cherry Tomato Sloppy Joes

bun piled with saucy beans

It’s the childhood fave that’s fun to eat, slightly sweet and decidedly very delicious. This version is reimagined with lentils and the textural interest of zucchini and cherry tomatoes, plus some zing from sour pickles. Hello, Sloppy Joes.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 
1 yellow onion, chopped 
4 garlic cloves, chopped 
1 tablespoon tomato paste 
1 teaspoon ground ancho chile 
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste 
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 
2 pints cherry tomatoes, quartered 
2 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch pieces 
2 cups cooked brown lentils, drained and rinsed 
1 teaspoon light or dark brown sugar 
6 kaiser rolls or sturdy buns, warmed but not toasted 
12 sour pickle slices


Pour the olive oil into a large skillet over medium heat. When it shimmers, stir in the onion and garlic and sauté until they soften, about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, ground chile, salt, and red pepper flakes and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Stir in the cherry tomatoes and zucchini and cook until the tomatoes collapse, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the lentils and brown sugar, increase the heat to bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the squash is tender but not mushy and a thick sauce has formed. Taste and add more salt if needed. Let cool slightly.

Divide the bottom buns among six plates. Spoon the warm filling onto the buns, top with the pickles and the top buns, and serve.

Excerpted from Cool Beans by Joe Yonan (Ten Speed Press). Copyright © 2020. Photos by Aubrie Pick, food styling by Lillian Kang, courtesy Ten Speed Press.

Related Articles