These vegan and gluten-free Pumpkin Sloppy Joes are a healthy makeover of the traditional recipe with a Fall spin!
This right here is the food of my childhood.
Sloppy Joes were on weekly rotation in my parents house when my sister and I were growing up, and we never complained. Our Sloppy Joes were always served the same way. One very soft bun, split in half and laid open face on the plate, topped with mounds of tangy, sweet, wonderfully warm, and oh-so saucy filing. We ate it open faced, instead of sandwich style, because we were a family that firmly believed in a larger filling to bun ratio. And though we didn’t pick it up like a sandwich, but had a more civilized fork and knife situation, I assure you, the meal was still sloppy. If you knew me as a child, every meal was sloppy.
Since my diet has done a 180 from the sloppy joe days of my youth, I had to find a way to enjoy this childhood delicacy now. Enter lentils and the most sweet, salty, tangy, perfectly tomatoe-y homemade sloppy joe sauce, because it is all about the sauce, amiright?
And you heard me right, this sauce is H-O-M-E-M-A-D-E, because you are a kitchen rockstar, the conquer of the weeknight dinner, and the homemaker of the sloppy joe sauce. And trust me when I say, you can do this. Put down the can opener and back away from the can, this healthy sauce is totally within your reach.
PLUS this sauce has PUMPKIN. How could we resist making this warm Fall dish even Fall-er. Tis the season to pumpkin everything, and savory is on board with pumpkin too. The pumpkin puree is added into the sauce giving it a velvety texture and beautiful sheen. Then, up the pumpkin ante, we add in cubed pumpkin as well. Now, don’t sweat it here if you cant find pumpkin at your grocery store, or the thought or chopping up a whole pumpkin without losing a limb, or at the very least a finger, is on your mind, no need to worry. You can sub in butternut squash for the cubed pumpkin.
Though the sauce is the star of the show, we can move on without a nod to our supporting character – the lentil. Lentils for the non-meat “meat” of the recipe and soak up all that saucy goodness. They have a small bite-sized texture that mimics ground beef in a close, but not too, close kinda way.
- 1 cup green lentils
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil OR coconut oil
- 1 cup diced butternut squash
- 1/2 red onion diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon mustard powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon smoky paprika
- 1 oz can tomato sauce 15
- 1 cup canned pumpkin puree
- 4 tablespoons maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Add the lentils and 2 cups of water to a pot. Bring to a boil, and simmer for 8 minutes. Add in the cubed butternut squash and simmer until both the squash and lentils are tender, about 7-12 more minutes. Drain any excess water and set aside.
In a large skillet, heat the avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add in the onion, and cook until translucent, about 7-10 minutes. Add in the garlic, tomato paste, mustard powder, cumin, and paprika. Sautee for another 30 seconds. Add in the tomato sauce, pumpkin puree, and maple syrup. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add in the apple cider vinegar, and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and serve with buns, over potatoes, or as desired.
And who is Joe, anyway?