Lentil-tempeh sloppy mess

I love lentils. For the first few months after Hayden was born, I couldn’t eat them because they made him really fussy. But eventually he was OK with them, and now likes to eat them, so thank goodness because lentils are such a great plant-based staple! My favorite way to eat lentils is in burger form (thank you Scott Jurek), but a good lentil soup works too.

Recently I saw a recipe for lentil sloppy joes that got stuck in my head for some reason. Combined with tempeh and served over rice (with a side of simply dressed kale salad), this meal is high on flavor and low on prep work or dishes to wash.

In the last year, my cooking style has morphed considerably. Not only do I not have as much time to cook, I also have a toddler to consider. I shoot for the following criteria for dinner:

  1. Minimal prep time
  2. High on veggies
  3. Includes a lot of “basic” ingredients
  4. Can easily be modified to be “toddler friendly”

Luckily Hayden is a good eater in that he eats a wide variety of food without complaining, many vegetables included. We all eat the same dinner, but it might be in different forms. His plate is usually deconstructed or separated out (in this case, rice on one side of the bowl and lentils on the other).  He often sits on the counter while I chop vegetables and likes to snack on them (raw mushrooms are a favorite…weird). So if he doesn’t eat the cooked version, I don’t worry about it. He’s a typical toddler – one day he loves the broccoli but tomorrow no way. It all evens out in the end.

Sloppy Lentils & Tempeh (original recipe found here)

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 cup brown or green lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes (with green chiles, optional)
  • 1 package tempeh, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons molasses
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened and just beginning to brown, 5-7 minutes. Add the lentils and broth; bring to a boil, then partially cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender enough to eat, but still firm enough to hold their shape (not mushy!).

2. Stir in the tomatoes,  molasses, vinegar, soy sauce, tomato paste, garlic powder, mustard powder, and tempeh. Increase the heat to medium and bring to a boil. Continue to cook the lentils until the sauce has thickened, 10-15 minutes more, stirring frequently.

Serve lentils over brown rice or on rolls for a true Sloppy Joe version. Garnish with parsley.

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