Vegan Comfort Food: Lentil Quinoa Sloppy Joes

November 4, 2016
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!
Vegan Comfort Food: Lentil Quinoa Sloppy Joes

Vegan Comfort Food: Lentil Quinoa Sloppy Joes

Recipe Type: Hearty Entrees Sandwiches
utensils YIELDS 4 servings
herb graphic for recipe card
  • 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)
        graphic for recipe card


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 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.


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