Many people have fond memories of eating sloppy joe’s for dinner as a kid. I am not one of those people. Yes, my mom occasionally made sloppy joe’s. And yes, I generally enjoyed eating them – until my family went to Knott’s Berry Farm. During that trip, my sister Kate ate a ton of barbecue beans. And then we went on some swirly rides. Eventually, we were driven home and got into bed. Totally uneventful. Several hours into the middle of the night, I woke up to the kind of surprise that ruins barbecue anything for a very long time: projectile barbecue beans. Kate had sat straight up in bed and spewed all over the room, spattering my bed in the process.
That memory scarred me so deeply that, to this day, I still can’t stomach barbecue beans. But lentils are a different story altogether.
Lentils I love in any form, especially with Indian spices but also flavored only with a spoonful of sambal oelek Asian chili paste and a dollop of Greek yogurt. They’re healthy, easy to make, cook fairly quickly, pair nicely with a variety of vegetables and herbs (which is especially convenient when I have ones that need to be used quite badly), and hold up well enough in the refrigerator to provide an entire week’s worth of lunches. So I always keep some in my pantry.
When I found myself with some extra bell peppers, onions, and tomatoes laying around, not to mention a craving for meat on a vegan weeknight, I turned to lentils. They hold their shape and have just enough substance to make you forget these sloppy joe’s are meatless. And besides, the veggie-laden barbecue sauce is delicious, even if you choose to use ground meat instead. (more…)