Thursday, May 20, 2010

A Sloppy Joe Recipe for Omnivores: Pita with Lentils and Local Beef

This week I discovered a lentil sloppy joe recipe; it inspired me to combine leftover meat loaf with the lentils to create my own version for lunch.  Our sloppy joes turned out well, and thus I am happy to share the resulting recipe.

What delights me about the lentil-beef combination is that I can use less meat and still enjoy the great taste of our favorite sloppy joe recipe. Perhaps some day we'll try the full vegetarian version.   At this point, however, I remain a vegetarian wannabe who still eats meat, in part because I defer to the preferences of my husband and children.

In January I decided that I could not, in good conscience, buy cheap feedlot beef any longer. Driving past a blackened feedlot crowded with cattle was the disturbing impetus for this decision.  So we have been enjoying our freezer full of venison cuts as our primary source of red meat for many months.

My oldest daughter really misses eating meatloaf and sloppy joes, however. These two favorite dishes just don't taste the same when we substitute ground venison for beef.  After gulping at the price of grass fed ground beef in the health food stores, I resolved to find ethical meat at the farmer's market when it opened this month.

Success! We bought four pounds of local ground beef for $3.99 a pound last weekend. After our long beef hiatus, we thoroughly savored homemade meatloaf for dinner on Saturday.  And now we have another way to enjoy the meat in sloppy joe form later.

Lentil and Beef Sloppy Joe Recipe

1 cup lentils
6 to 8 oz. ground beef, cooked and browned
Chopped onions, sauteed in oil
Pita pocket bread
Cabbage, optional
1/2 cup to 1 cup tomato ketchup
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar
Mayonnaise, optional
Salt to taste

  1. Cook 1 cup lentils in 2 cups water for about 30 minutes or until tender and liquid is mostly absorbed.  
  2. Add ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, and vinegar and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  
  3. Next, add ground beef and onions (or crumbled leftover meatloaf) and simmer for 5 minutes or until flavors have blended.  Add salt and additional ketchup, worchestershire sauce, or vinegar to taste.
  4. Cut pita circles in half and spread a layer of mayonnaise.  Fill with one layer or torn or shredded fresh cabbage (optional). Then add lentil and beef sloppy joe filling.  
  5. Serve and enjoy the tangy goodness with a smile.  Makes about 6 sandwiches.
Wondering what to put inside the rest of the pita bread?  Check several other ideas in this slideshow.  For other nourishing recipes that you can afford to make, head over to Pennywise Platter Thursday at The Nourishing Gourmet.   Friday Food and Food on Friday have even more recipes to explore.


Jenna said...

This looks like a great way to stretch ground beef. I agree that the grass-fed price is difficult budget-wise but SO worth it!! My husband just talked to a friend of ours who hunts (a lot!) about getting some venison this fall. I'll certainly be looking for recipe then. I have never cooked game before. Thanks again!

Quirky Momma said...

Yummy! I am having meat aversions with this pregnancy. Low-meat alternatives are wonderful! Thanks for the idea. I'll have to get some lentils next time we are out.

The Prudent Homemaker said...

Sounds yummy! We did half meat and half beans in our tacos last week. My husband was excited to make the meat go twice as far, and I was glad for the nutrients in the beans. I was also excited to stretch our meat further, since I don' know when we'll be going shopping again.

the cape on the corner said...

ok, i love this idea! sloppy joe is part of my meal plan at home because i don't know what else to do with ground meat! thanks for this idea.

i so appreciate your comment on my green post (at the cape on the corner). some of those things are easier than others, and i know there are more ways that i can be greener, too. please stop by again!

Anonymous said...

Yum! I love the idea of serving it in a pita. I'd never thought of doing that.