Sunday, May 4, 2014

Sloppy Sams Recipe

I've mentioned "Sloppy Sams" (a.k.a vegan sloppy joes) numerous times on this blog, but I've never actually devoted a post to the recipe for them!

I originally got my inspiration for Sloppy Sams from Recipes for a Small Planet, one of the first vegetarian cookbooks I'd ever owned. (In case you didn't know, I was a vegetarian for about 12 yrs - from 1993-2005, and when I started out I had NO idea what vegetarians ate. I just ate dairy. But after a while, I knew I had to expand. That's when Recipes for a Small Planet and The New Enchanted Broccoli Forest entered my life - and changed it forever!)

Over time, I've adapted the old sloppy sams recipe to fit my family's preferences better.

Here's my recipe:

Sloppy Sams

olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1-2 celery stalks, diced
1 small summer squash, diced or shredded (this can be omitted or replaced with any vegetable you like)
1-2 red/orange/yellow peppers, diced or chopped coarsely
4 cloves garlic
500g red lentils, sorted and rinsed
4 (or so) cups water
300g tomato paste
1/8 cup maple syrup or sugar, or more or less, depends how sweet you want it!
apple cider vinegar, to taste
pinch of cinnamon
salt, pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and vegetables, stirring occasionally. Add garlic after a few minutes. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, till everything just begins to brown. Add water to pot, then add lentils. Stir well, and raise the heat. Bring mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to simmer for 10 min or so (until the lentils soften). Add water as needed. When the lentils are soft and the mixture is still liquidy, add tomato paste, maple syrup/sugar, vinegar, and seasonings. Mix well. Simmer for another 5 minutes or so. Serve warm on rolls or in pitot.

This recipe is really versatile, you can leave out or replace vegetables with others you prefer. You can add shredded carrots and omit the summer squash. You can leave out the peppers if you don't like them... the possibilities are endless. Enjoy!

Update: I started eating the leftovers, cold, as a dip with crackers or tortilla chips, and it's a big hit!

Let me know if you decide to make my Sloppy Sams for your family!


  1. Do you eat them with a knife and fork? I'm not sure how you would eat them on bread or in pitta. I would love to serve this on rice or with pasta though.

    1. You pile it on the bottom half of a roll, and cover with the top. like Sloppy Joes of course! Or in a pita if that's more convenient for you. It's a pretty thick consistency when it's ready.
      Have you never had sloppy joes, my friend?

      p.s. of course you are welcome to serve them on rice or pasta if you like!

    2. I've never had sloppy Joes or Sams. I want a photo of you guys eating these.

  2. made it as one of the dishes for our vegan shabbat lunch. because you said dont mess with the maple syrup tomato paste vinegar mix i didn't and even though we love sweet, it seemed too sweet for this sort of dish. but i am finding it impossible to find tomato paste without sugar here, so perhaps the two together made it too sweet and next time i'll half the maple syrup...or less. also, my lentils took significantly longer to get soft and they never really got mushy like they do when i make a soup. all in all it was a nice vegan alternative to the meat substitute dishes. thank you. l'ag b'omer sameach! chami

    1. Hi Chami! Sorry it wasn't great for you. Definitely look for sugar free tomato paste - there are a couple of brands out there - or make your own tomato paste (I often do). Also as far as the lentils getting soft: 1. if your lentils are old, they won't soften. 2. if you have hard water it takes a lot longer to soften the lentils, so I recommend filtering your cooking water in hard-water areas. 3. if you add the salt or tomato paste and vinegar before the lentils are soft, they won't soften. 3. maybe my flame burns "higher" than yours. I use my big flame for this, as I use a pot with a large diameter.

  3. no need to be sorry. we liked it...just mainly the too sweet factor...and the not getting soft...i seasoned it at the end and bought from a bulk bin at a high turn over health food store in yerush....dont know. as i said i'm going to try it again with less maple syrup, if at all, if i still cant find the sugar free brand of tomato paste. do you recall the brand as i have looked in many places without success?

    1. maybe you didn't grow up with sweet-tasting sloppy joes? anyhow, glad to hear you'll try it again! (filter you cooking water, that might make all the difference)
      I don't remember the brand without sugar - I will see if I can find it.

  4. This is a little tangential, but do you ever use fake meat crumbles or the like? I could see making this with such a product. When I was young, Tivol was coming out with the first such products and they were pretty good. In the US we found one brand that was pretty good, and even scared people by putting the sausage in lasagna.

    We didn't have "sweet tasting" Sloppy Joes, either. Our Sloppy Joes were very Italian.

    1. Sure they still sell that product - for over 55nis/kg! Lentils stretch my shekels a LOT further, are wheat-free, and aren't a processed ingredient... But yes, I can see someone making sloppy sams with them, if they are into fake meat crumbles.


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