Monday, March 25, 2013

Sloppy Lentil Joes

Please don't run at the sound of that name! I promise they are actually worth a try. If you're looking for a vegetarian option that even serious meat eaters would say is pretty good, look no further. I first tasted these at my friend Hilloree's house. She is a busy mom trying to feed her growing family of 6 without breaking the bank. I was impressed by how well these sandwiches accomplished that.

Tonight when we ate these it took my skeptical four-year-old a few minutes to get past the less-than-appealing look before she realized how much actually she liked it. It's a cheap meal that cooks up quickly compared to other labor-intensive meals, probably even shorter if you took time to soak the lentils. I've adapted the recipe from's Busy Cook to make it work for here. The adaptation uses two kinds of lentils for texture: the ordinary local red one and the whole version of that dal which you can in shops that sell organic dals.

No, they don't look beautiful, but they are good!

Sloppy Lentil Joes
1 Tablespoon oil
1 medium onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cups red masoor dal (tiny and orange/red)
3/4 cups whole black masoor dal
3 cups water
1 vegetable broth cube (Knorr)
1/3 cup prepared barbecue sauce
1/3 cup ketchup
1/4 cup mustard
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon red chili powder (optional)

Over med-low heat, saute onion and garlic in oil. Once softened, add the two kinds of dal, water, and the vegetable cube. Bring to a boil, drop the heat to a simmer, and cook covered for 20-25 minutes or until lentils have softened. In a separate bowl mix together all the other ingredients. Once the dal is tender, pour the sauce into the pot and continue to cook on low another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. The whole dal will still have some bite and the red will have lost its shape. If you find it too soupy, cook it a bit longer uncovered until the extra liquid cooks off.

Serve on top of toasted buttered buns. Because of the issue of crumbling we face with most buns here, I either make my own or use the long skinny loaves of bread to serve as buns.

Note: If you don't want to shell out for packaged barbecue sauce, the recipe below from Emeril Lagasse is my absolute favorite homemade barbecue sauce. The list of ingredients is long and might not be things you always have (they are things I do always have), but it is one of the best barbecue sauces I've ever used. I always get positive comments from dinner guests when I use it. It's a dream on my shortcut of barbecue chicken pizza, but I'll save that for another post! If you're short on ingredients, look up barbecue sauce online, and there are loads of really simple recipes.

3 cups ketchup
1 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 1/2 tablespoons molasses
1 tablespoons chili powder (American version)
1 tablespoon ground mustard
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (plus a splash)

Just combine everything into a bowl and mix thoroughly. I usually only make a half recipe because it is a lot. Refer to the original post on Food Network if you want more specifics.

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