I can’t eat beef because of the pretty moo-cows but I can create copycat recipes that once upon a time would have contained meat in this house. These Vegan Copycat Sloppy Joes combine earthy mushrooms and lentils with roast capsicum, a battalion of spices and finely chopped spinach to create a wonderfully full-bodied, meaty, meatless burger. No cows were harmed in the making of this sloppy joe but I did confuse some carnivores.
Living in the Hills is not for everyone, but I love it. I didn’t think I would, being a city girl through and through, but I have grown to love the complete randomness of the Hills community. From the Lantern Festival to the Tea Cup Tree (where hundreds have left their tea cups on a tree stump for the sheer whimsy of it) to our local wizard Baba Desi who wanders the streets wearing turbans, the Hills is an eccentric hotspot. And it’s beautiful, so what’s not to love?
One of my favourite places to visit is an abandoned golf course that has been adopted by the local doggy community as an off-leash area.
We take Scout the Dane up there a few times each week to frolic amongst the overgrown fairways and canine sandpit bunkers. There is nothing more blissful and soul affirming than a dog running full throttle across the green, ears flapping, canine companions in tow. On days when my brain needs a quick re-wire, we take to this abandoned space once available to members only but now open to all. I can’t imagine the golf community deriving as much joy from the space as the pack families do.
And after all this play, life re-affirmed, we go home to my vegan copycat sloppy joes. I know, I know…my segues are getting more and more tenuous.
The recipe for these sloppy joes began as our vegan spaghetti Bolognese and nows serves as both. In fact, the meaty mushroom-lentil base could easily serve in a lasagne or cannelloni or any dishes with a beef ragu. While the Husband and I eat my vegan copycat sloppy joes, I cook a small batch of spaghetti for the Elf, her small hands not able to manage the loose meat and bun combo yet. She devours the ragu which is the culinary gold star in this house; healthy and toddler approved.
Cooked for half an hour in a homemade mushroom stock with bay leaves, garlic, a combination of spices and paired with roast capsicum, this mushroom-lentil base is full-bodied, robust and truly delicious. It is meaty in the best way; meatlessly meaty. Even our builders scratched their heads thinking I had served them up beef.
When my taste buds crave my old ways, these vegan copycat sloppy joes answer the call every time. Meaty, messy and mouth-watering, these little guys are fast food at its best. Enjoy.
Vegan Copycat Sloppy Joes
These Vegan Copycat Sloppy Joes combine earthy mushrooms and lentils with roast capsicum, spices and chopped spinach to create a full-bodied meatless bun.
- 200 grams Swiss mushrooms, chopped in to small pieces (think mince meat texture)
- 1 x 400 ml can lentils, drained and rinsed
- 20 grams dried porcini mushrooms
- 1/3 cup (60ml) boiling water
- 200 ml (a half can) canned chopped tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon (20ml) soy or tamari sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- a good handful of baby spinach, finely chopped
- 2 -3 bullhorn peppers or one large red capsicum
- 6 small burger buns
- sea salt to your taste
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees C. Slice the peppers in half and remove the core and seeds. Slice in to ribbons, drizzle with a little oil and place on a roasting tray. Roast for 20 minutes or until soft. Remove from the oven and set aside.
- Meanwhile, pour boiling water over the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl, stir, and set aside for 10 minutes.
- In a small pan, heat the oil on medium heat and add the garlic. Cook for one minute before adding the bay leaves, paprika and oregano. Cook for another thirty seconds.
- Add the chopped mushrooms and stir to coat. Cook the mushrooms for three minutes until they are beginning to soften.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and strain the mushroom liquid from the porcini mushrooms in to the pot. Add the soy sauce and stir through.
- Finely chop the now hydrated porcini mushrooms and add them to the pot too.
- Add the lentils and stir through.
- Cook the mixture for around 20 minutes or until the liquid has cooked down and the mixture resembles a beef ragu.
- Take it off the heat and stir in the chopped spinach leaves.
- To assemble the sloppy joes, lightly toast the burger buns on a griddle. Lay a few pepper ribbons on the bun base and top with a good few spoonfuls of the ragu. Top with the bun top and serve.