“Meaty” Veggie Sloppy Joes with Homemade BBQ Sauce

With spring weather starting to come around – or already in full-swing for those of us in the Southwest – it’s a great time to cook up this American family favorite again! 

Sloppy Joes are great for any weather – warm and hearty, they are appetizing in cold weather; as a BBQ sandwich, these are also totally appropriate in warmer months.  It’s fantastic.  They simultaneously keep me warm on a cool spring night, while preparing me for summer with flavors of grill-outs!

These have definitely always been a childhood favorite of mine.  I know, weird, right?!  That can’t possibly have been anyone else’s favorite…

I especially loved it when my mom would make these with ground turkey – which quickly became the meat of choice in our house growing up.  Yep.  Everything from meatloaf to burgers to tacos… turkey.

These days, I tend to cook vegetarian most of the time, and of course I love coming up with recipes veggies and non-veggies will both enjoy.  Non-discriminating recipes are the bestest.  As a result, I now bring you the veggie approximation of the turkey Sloppy Joe by way of hearty grains covered in an amazingly delicious BBQ sauce.  Put yer bibs on.  It’s time to get a little messy!

And, might I note, this BBQ sauce is a much better choice than your average store-bought sauce.  It has half – check it, HALF – the calories of many sauces out there.  That’s because I use tomato paste, already very naturally sweet and flavorful, instead of sugar or HFCS.  Also, no scary ingredients!  Pssst. Also super yummy!

Then: (KC Masterpiece Classic as a random example) 60 calories, 12g sugars. and a bunch of odd ingredients/ 2 T.

Now: 29 calories, 6g sugars, and these ingredients below/ 2 T.

Homemade BBQ Sauce

  • 6 T. Tomato paste
  • 6 T. dark brown sugar
  • 6 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 T. apple cider vinegar
  • 3 T. agave nectar (reduced sugar)
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. each of onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, and chili powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • ½ tsp. of chipotle seasoning or canned chipotle adobo sauce
  • Water as needed (I used about ½ cup)

Whisk all ingredients together until well combined.  Add water one tablespoon at a time, whisking, until you reach your desired consistency. 

Veggie Sloppy Joes

  • 1 (15 oz) can Great Northern (white) beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ c. dry farro
  • ½ c. dry quinoa
  • 3 c. vegetable stock (chicken-flavored)
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • ¼ c. sweet pickle relish (or make your own, with this recipe!)

In a rice cooker sprayed with cooking spray, cook the farro and quinoa together with the stock until soft and fluffy (about 15-20 minutes).

Meanwhile, chop the celery, and in a separate bowl, mash the beans up a little with the back of a metal spoon.  When the farro and quinoa are done cooking, transfer to the bowl with the mashed beans and add celery, pickle relish, and as much of the BBQ sauce as you need.  Mix everything together until well combined and serve on a whole-wheat bun, a pita, or in a lettuce cup!  

Be sure to hand out some napkins...

Be sure to hand out some napkins...