Sloppy Joes are one of the most popular dinners at our house, like a sloppy, beefy burger on a soft bun, easy to make, inexpensive, and quickly devoured. Leftovers, I’ve found, even make a good sandwich for lunch the next day.
I make mine the way most people do-with lean ground beef, but recently started adding red lentils to the mix for added nutrients and a fibre boost. I always have a jar of split red lentils on the shelf – they cook quickly, in about ten minutes, and can be shaken into soups and stews, curries and even added to your morning oatmeal. With a very benign flavour, they take on any ingredients they’re incorporated with – in this case they simmer in the sweet, vinegary tomato sauce, blending right in with the beef – picky eaters won’t have a clue they’re there.
I often cook red lentils ahead of time and keep them in the fridge – they can be added cooked as well. To cook, cover with water and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until tender. That’s it. No need to soak, and because red lentils are split in half, they cook in a fraction of the time.
Sloppy Joes with Red Lentils
canola oil, for cooking
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 – 1 1/2 lb. lean ground beef or bison
2 cups tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
1/3 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp. cider or red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup dry red lentils
Salt and pepper, to taste
4-6 soft buns, cheese buns, or biscuits
Heat a drizzle of oil in a large pot set over medium-high heat and sauté the onion for 4-5 minutes, until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the beef and cook for about 5 minutes, breaking it up as you cook, until the meat is no longer pink.
Add the tomatoes, ketchup, vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the dry lentils and 1/4 cup of water, bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, or until the lentils are soft and the sauce has thickened. Split the buns or biscuits in half and ladle the sloppy Joe mixture on top. Serves 4-6.