Lentil love

For some reason, I put lentils in a little box where the only use was for stews and soups, i.e., dishes in which I cooked them to mush.  A scrumptious lentil salad (with nice, firm lentils) at a recent church potluck reminded me of the versatility and deliciousness of lentils.

As I browsed Show Me Vegan the other day, I came across this post about Snobby Joes, a vegetarian version of sloppy joes made with, you guessed it, lentils!  Seriously, you have to try this recipe — so good! Click here for the recipe at Post Punk Kitchen.

Growing up, my mom made delicious sloppy joes (except for that one time she left the pan on the stove and almost burned the house down).  I was a bit nervous about how Snobby Joes would stack up next to my memory of my mom’s sloppy joes (the kind with ground beef).  The answer?  This recipe will be part of our regular rotation from now on.

In addition to tasting great, the lentils in Snobby Joes provide lots of healthy plant protein.  On a budget?  This dish leaves you with plenty of green in your wallet.

My Variations

If you’re swimming in tomatoes right now, like we are, you can use fresh tomatoes in place of the tomato sauce and paste.  Just puree some chopped fresh tomatoes in the blender until you have at least 1 1/4 cups of tomato sauce.  This will work best if at least some of the tomatoes are paste tomatoes (less water content).  If you don’t have any paste tomatoes, simply suck out the tomato juice from the cut slices before adding to the blender.  (Alternately, you could squeeze the juice into a bowl and drink it, but Method #1 dirties fewer dishes.)

Cooking the lentils for 20 minutes is important.  More cooking, and you’ll get lentil mush.  Less cooking, and they’ll be a little crunchy.  The fear of mushy lentil scared me into under cooking mine a bit this time around, not bad, but I’ll go for the full twenty next time.

Don’t have buns?  Bread or English muffins work well also.  We enjoyed these on our homemade 100% whole wheat bread.  Open-faced creates the perfect bread to filling ratio.

Photo courtesy of our dying digital camera — gotta love planned obsolescence!

Entry to Nupur’s Blog Bites 5: Sandwiches and Wraps