I was not a good vegetarian the year that I tried it in high school. I did not have my complete and utter love for vegetables that I have now and I didn’t eat any of the good stuff — like hummus or quinoa — that I should have eaten to get a more well-balanced diet. Oh, and I kind of cut a lot of corners.
Case in point: I went to visit a friend who was in college that year. We hung out, went to a party and came back to her dorm room late, very hungry. She had one of those plug-in cook tops and some chicken noodle soup from a can. She heated it up and I just picked out what I could of the chicken pieces. They were tiny and everywhere and the whole soup was probably infused with chicken. I obviously didn’t take the vegetarian thing very seriously.
These days, I eat plenty of meat. Mostly chicken and turkey and seafood and lean pork. But we do like to have a meatless night here and there. And since I love, love, love sloppy Joe’s, I wanted to try a meat-free version. So I experimented with this for a bit and finally settled on the recipe below. Except, well… I pretty much always use chicken broth. Instead of vegetable broth. It’s what I’ve always got on hand and ready to go! I’d still make a terrible vegetarian, apparently.
So use whatever broth you have but you gotta try this version of sloppy Joe’s. The mushrooms are so hearty and bring so much good flavor, and then combined with the tangy sauce – so much yum. Even the carnivores won’t mind tucking into this.
Now, I know it seems like a ton of mushrooms! And it is, but they cook down a lot. It’s kinda like spinach that way. You end up with not nearly so much, just all the meaty, umami flavor that mushrooms bring. The mushrooms also give off a lot of moisture as they cook, so you don’t have to add much to get this nice and saucy (and sloppy, as they should be!)
So these sandwiches come out vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free (just check your sauce mixes and buy gluten-free versions) – a dinner everyone can enjoy! And if you’re worried about a soggy bun, try these tips:
1. Toast the bun. This helps a lot. Even more helpful is…
2. Use mayonnaise on the bottom bun. It creates a fat barrier that prevents the sauce from dripping through and soaking into the bread. My husband requests this every time he orders a burger at a restaurant.
3. Serve it my favorite way – stuffed into a baked potato! I love having my sloppy Joe’s in a potato instead of in a sandwich. I always eat the whole potato, so it acts as an edible bowl with the sloppy Joe mix. Delicious.
Whichever way you go, you may need a fork. Messy central!
I hope you enjoy this veggie-fied version of sloppy Joes!
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 small green pepper, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 portobello mushrooms, chopped
- 8 oz. white button mushrooms, chopped
- 1/2 cup ketchup
- 1/4 cup vegetable broth
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (srirachi or otherwise)
- For serving: whole wheat sandwich rolls
- Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and peppers and saute for 3-5 minutes, until tender.
- Add the garlic and mushrooms and saute for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients, bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes, until the sauce has reduced a bit.
- Turn off heat and load up your sandwiches!
Don’t like it spicy? Just leave out the jalapeño pepper and skip the hot chili sauce. These will still have tons of great flavor!
Also, if you are a vegetarian, you'll need to use an anchovy-free Worcestershire sauce. Trader Joe's and other retailers carry this and there are also kosher versions that don't have anchovies and would be vegetarian.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 303Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 479mgCarbohydrates: 58gFiber: 9gSugar: 11gProtein: 12g