Classically, Sloppy Joes are a fragrant-sweet concoction of ground beef, peppers, onions, tomato sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, herbs and acid. In order to increase the nutritional density and up the fiber, you can add extra vegetables as well as scale back the added sugars by using mixture of tomato paste and sauce and then coax back some of the sweetness with the addition of a small amount of iron-rich blackstrap molasses, balsamic vinegar and a whiff of ground cloves.
Spinach leaves and a little chopped parsley give this dish an extra boost of vegetables. You can enjoy this on a bun or over roasted sweet potato slices.
Learn how to brown meat or tofu, and how to add more plants to your daily eating.
Level Ups (optional)
Double the vegetables or serve over roasted sweet potatoes, brown rice or quinoa.
Substitute cooked or canned lentils for the meat or tofu.
Chef’s knife or equivalent
Large skillet, sauté pan or pot
Heat-proof spatula for stirring
- 2 Tbsp cooking oil, divided
- 1 lb ground turkey, ground beef or extra firm tofu cut into ½ inch cubes
- ½ cup finally diced yellow onion
- ½ cup finally diced celery
- ½ cup grated carrot
- 1 cup small diced red or green bell pepper
- ¼ cup water
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced or ½ tsp garlic powder
- 3 ounces tomato paste (half of a 6 ounce can)
- 7-8 ounces tomato sauce (about half a 15 ounce can)
- Half a pinch of ground cloves
- 1-2 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
- 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (regular or vegan)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- 4 cups baby spinach leaves
- ½ cup finely chopped parsley leaves
- 6 whole-grain rolls for serving
- Brown the meat of tofu: Over medium-high heat, heat 1 Tbsp of the oil in a large sauté pan or large pot and sauté the turkey, beef or tofu until browned and cooked through. Remove the meat or tofu from the pan.
- Cook the vegetables: Add the remaining oil. Add the onions, celery, carrots and bell pepper and cook for 2 minutes. Splash in 1-2 Tbsp of water to steam and soften the vegetables. Continue to cook for another 3-4 minutes. When the vegetables are softened, add the garlic and cook for a minute.
- Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute or two. Add the tomato sauce and all of the other ingredients with the exception of the spinach and parsley. Cook, while stirring, another 5 minutes. Just before serving, add the spinach and parsley and stir just until the spinach is wilted. Enjoy over whole-grain burger rolls.