Authors: A Veggie Venture
I l-o-v-e food blogs. If truth be told, I follow hundreds a few posts at a sit-down, really reading, stopping to appreciate the photos, the stories, the curiosity and the expertise, the response of the community and yes, the recipes too. Following my fellow local St. Louis food bloggers is especially cool. I've met many face-to-face so catching the inside bits about special ingredients, shopping finds, neighborhood doings, life changes, it's like the best jigsaw puzzle. Our St. Louis food blogger Facebook page is less puzzle, more dutiful reporting of recent recipes. Most slip by but the idea of sloppy joes made with lentils instead of meat really caught my attention. Our friends Denise and Craig are omnivores but actively hunt out meatless main dishes. When Denise called her experiment with vegetarian sloppy joes"THE" best vegetarian dinner for a carnivore, I knew that sooner than later, I'd be turning hot lentils into buns.
Call me glad I did! Regular readers know that slow cookers, tastewise, often disappoint me. NOT HERE! The lentils and seasonings both stand up to the heat, the flavor is great, the texture is great, the combination is wonderful. And meaty brown lentils really do mimic the traditional texture of sloppy joes, you won't "fool" a carnivore but these are excellent.
Readers, do you follow food bloggers from your own city or state? It's really fun! More and more are organizing a bit, a Google search might well lead to lists like this one for the St. Louis Food Blogs. Give it a try!
Also just FYI I'm loving the regular slow cooker inspiration from Slow Cooker from Scratch, a collection of real-food recipes for slow cookers, the brilliant idea from Kalyn Denny of Kalyn's Kitchen. Check it out too!
RECIPE for SLOW COOKER VEGETARIAN LENTIL SLOPPY JOES
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 3 - 8 hours
Makes 4 cups
1 cup (185g/6.5oz) dried brown or green lentils
1-1/2 cups (323g/12oz) vegetable broth
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (75g/2.5oz) tomato paste
1 onion, chopped fine
1/2 red or green bell pepper, chopped fine
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1-1/2 teaspoons oregano
1-1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika (don't skip this)
2 teaspoons dried parsley (I used DIY Dried Herbs)
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Cayenne pepper to taste (I used 1/16t)
Stir all ingredients together right in the slow cooker. There's no need for measuring cups, just eyeball or get out the kitchen scale for the lentils, broth and tomato paste! Cover and cook on high for 3 - 4 hours or on low for 7 - 8 hours. Check for consistency, it might be necessary to take the lid off for the last 30 minutes or so.
Serve in buns or as a side dish. Keeps for a week or more, easy to rewarm.
ALANNA's TIPS & KITCHEN NOTES
Don't be surprised if people begin to ask, "What smells so good? Is that dinner?"
No red lentils for this dish, they would cook to mush.
I cooked the lentils in a just-replaced slow cooker. On heat setting "4" of 5, the lentils were cooked in 2 hours but it took another hour to reach the right texture.
A poblano pepper would work too, adding a touch of underlying smoky heat.
famous asparagus-to-zucchini Alphabet of Vegetables.
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