Food, Recipes

Vegan Comfort Food: Lentil Quinoa Sloppy Joes


Vegan Comfort Food: Lentil Quinoa Sloppy Joes

The sloppy joe is believed to have originated at a café in Sioux City, Iowa in 1930 when a cook named Joe came up with the sandwich. Throughout the years, in the 70s and 80s, it was made popular through catchy advertising slogans and has become a staple in the school cafeteria. Many people see sloppy joes as a nostalgic comfort food from their childhood. Having grown up in the Midwest, I can remember having this sandwich on chilly winter nights.

Traditionally made with ground beef, this one is easy to experiment with and reinvent. Lentils and quinoa take the place of the meat here and offer just as much protein while also adding fiber and antioxidants. To change things up, I used black lentils, which are sometimes referred to as “beluga” lentils. Their taste is not much different than other lentil varieties, but they get their black color from high concentrations of the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is known to have cancer-fighting properties.

You could add to the nutritional content of this dish by adding chopped veggies like carrots, mushrooms, or bell peppers. These sloppy joes can easily be made ahead of time and are an affordable way to feed a crowd, which makes them perfect for football tailgates and potlucks!

Lentil Quinoa Sloppy Joes


Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
  • 3/4 cup black lentils
  • 1/4 cup red quinoa
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • to taste sea salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil of choice
  • whole wheat buns (or bread of choice)
  • sliced avocado (optional)
  • vegan pepper jack cheese (optional)


1. In a medium pan, add the lentils and quinoa, and fill with water until water line is just above lentils and quinoa. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lentils are soft.

2. While the lentils and quinoa are cooking, add the chopped onion and garlic in a pan and sauté in 1 tablespoon of cooking oil until fragrant.

3. Add the onions and garlic to the lentils and quinoa. Mix in the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine.

4. Heat on low for 10 minutes and serve on whole wheat buns topped with vegan pepper jack cheese and sliced avocado (optional).

Also by Kathryn: Vegan Grilled Sweet Potatos with Chimichurri Sauce

Related: Vegan Reuben Sandwich

Gluten-Free Breadless Eggplant Sandwich

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Photos: Kathryn Farrugia

Kathryn Farrugia

Kathryn Farrugia

Blogger at ZeNutrition
Kathryn is a vegan cook and nutrition consultant based in Los Angeles. She uses yoga in the park, runs by the beach and hikes through the mountains to connect and inspire creativity that she brings to her dishes. She is determined to make the world a healthier and happier place one meal at a time. Read more at ZENutrition or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Kathryn Farrugia


Promoting health through a #plantbased diet, active lifestyle, and positive thinking
@AskCapitalOne I would have to send it via DHL, which might not be possible to a PO box address. Is that the only address you have? - 3 months ago
  • NYC Parent

    Hi! I wanted to make this recipe today. What size can of tomato paste do you use? Thanks!!

    • wooops! saw this comment way too late! what size can did you end up using?

    • Juhea Kim

      Sorry, I didn’t see this sooner!! I hope your sloppy joes turned out okay!

  • Irene Maxwell

    Wow this looks really good!

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