Vegan Sloppy Joe Sandwich Made with Cauliflower
Joe just got a makeover and he looks good, and he tastes even better. Get your minds out of the gutter peeps. I’m talking about food. Sheesh.
My Joe still tastes like tomatoes and meat, but he’s kinder, gentler, and more compassionate. He’s also healthier. And, he’s still sloppy, but that’s part of Joe’s charm, isn’t it?
In case you’re not familiar with the sloppy Joe, let me introduce you. According to the Carnegie Library, this meat and tomato sauce sandwich was created in a Sioux City, Iowa café in 1930 by a cook named Joe. The rest is history. Until today, because I just reinvented that bloody “loose meat” sandwich, and it’s killer, without any killing involved.
Ladies and gentlemen, meet the new and improved vegan sloppy Joe.
If you’re caught up with my life, then you know that my son, Griffin, is home from college for the summer. If you know that, then you also know that he has a bottomless pit for a stomach. What you probably don’t know is that he’s been paying a lot of attention to my work, and the horrors of factory farming. Because of what he’s learned, he’s cut dairy and all meat (except fish) out of his diet. He’s now eating a TON of fruit and vegetables, and he’s drinking almond milk instead of cow milk. But (there’s always a big but), he does miss the meatiness of meat, so he asked me if I’d make him a vegan sloppy Joe.
Of course! Anything to keep him on this healthier and happier lifestyle path.
So what’s in the conventional sloppy Joe? Traditionally it consists of ground beef, onions, tomato sauce or ketchup, and Worcestershire sauce. As I dug deep into the recesses of my mind, trying to recall the sloppy Joes of my childhood, I remembered a pretty tangy (from the tomato paste) and bland sandwich. Since I was going to give this sandwich a makeover, it obviously needed to be better than the original, so I set out to do just that.
And I did.
This vegan sloppy Joe has every bit the meaty texture of the beef version because it has finely chopped cauliflower and Beyond Meat beefy crumbles to give it the mouth feel of the traditional sandwich. And the flavor is exceptional, if I do say so myself. The sauce is a combination of strained tomatoes, and a tiny bit of tomato paste (I’m not a fan of the overpowering flavor of paste), a little liquid smoke for a smoky flavor, onions, garlic, Italian seasoning, chili powder, celery salt, and maple syrup. Together these simple ingredients make an exceptionally tasty sauce.
Even though I thought the sloppy Joe mixture was awesome, the true test was what Griffin thought of it. I spent a lot of time slowly adding the spices to the sauce until it was perfect, so I was a little nervous when he took his first bite. I didn’t want to have to go back to the square one and waste a whole bag of Beyond Meat crumbles. I waited all of two seconds until I heard, “mmm, grunt, mmm.” Success!!
He had two vegan sloppy Joe sandwiches in five minutes and then spooned some more filling on his plate and ate it without a bun. He also made sure to tell me not to throw away the remainder in the pan. As if! Who does he think he’s talking to? Big eye roll.
As you know, Memorial Day is just a few days away, and you’re probably hosting or going to a party. If that’s the case, or even if you’re just staying home and having a nice and relaxing low-key day, vegan sloppy Joes are the perfect food to serve or take with you. And be sure to make enough to share with your non vegan friends so you can prove to them that they can eat like a boss without putting fatty meat in their bodies. 😉
Some of the products I used to make this: