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Buttermilk Articles

Meatless Sloppy Joe Recipe

May 8, 2018

Meatless Sloppy Joe Recipe


Not your average joe...

Sloppy Joes are essentially ground beef braised in ketchup and some other flavors, sounds disgusting on paper but for many it’s a comforting and nostalgic meal from childhood. This recipe takes out the meat and replaces it with super healthy chard stems and lentils. The base flavors are all still there and the mouthfeel is similar enough to not miss the beef. Instead of BBQ sauce I’ve added Gochujang, a Korean fermented chili paste for some subtle but present heat. A splash of good quality fish sauce won’t make anything taste fishy I promise, and for the last umami hit, the lentils are boiled in water with MSG. The fish sauce and MSG can obviously be omitted if you’re vegan, or afraid of MSG. Serve on a cheap and squishy hamburger bun with some pickle chips. Feel free to experiment with different pickle ideas, maybe some more Korean things, or serving it on crostini instead of hamburger buns, or over rice.



Large Pot

Medium Pot



2 cups of finely diced chard stems (around 10z, or 2 bunches)

1 green bell pepper finely diced

½ white or yellow onion finely diced

½ cup (uncooked) black or green lentils

3 garlic cloves diced

3 tbsp olive oil

2 cups low sodium vegetable stock (can use water too)

½ cup ketchup

2 tbsp dijon mustard

1 tbsp gochujang

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp good quality fish sauce (I use the Red Boat brand)

1 tbsp MSG

Hamburger Buns

Your favorite pickle chips



  1. Finely dice your chard stems, onion, green bell pepper to all the same size
  2. Dice garlic
  3. Heat a large pot on medium for a couple minutes, add olive oil and everything you’ve diced.
  4. Add salt and slowly sautee for 10 -15 minutes until everything is soft and onions are translucent, stirring every couple minutes.
  5. When everything is looking soft and translucent, move everything to one side of the pot and add tomato paste directly to pot. Mush it around and let it cook down for 1 minute, it will look like it’s burning and sticking to the bottom, that’s what we’re looking for.
  6. Add stock, ketchup, dijon, gochujang, fish sauce, brown sugar and stir thoroughly. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low, you want everything to be just slightly bubbling. Cook for 20 minutes stirring every 5.
  7. While everything is reducing, Cook lentils in water and MSG for 15 minutes on a slow boil until they’re tender but still holding their shape, strain and reserve (can be done ahead.)
  8. After the 20 minutes is up, add cooked lentils to the large pot, stir thoroughly and continue to cook for 10 minutes. The mixture should be loose and wet but still holding its shape and not watery.
  9. Serve on hamburger buns with some pickle chips.