Sloppy Joe day always resulted in stained t-shirts and messy countertops because the food is well, sloppy. However, that does not mean it didn’t bring a tomato stained smile to American faces both young and old. The tradition beef dish is about as american as chared hot dogs and corn over an open grill, but where did it come from? Who is Joe? Is he really sloppy, or is it just the sandwich that is?
Well, the history is a bit more interesting than I had thought. Sloppy Joe’s is a bar located in Key West Flordia. When it opened in 1933, the bar went through two name changes before they settled on “Sloppy Joes”. The final name was suggested by a regular customer, Ernest Hemingway. The name was coined from a bar in Old Havana, on the corner of Zulueta and Anímas, that sold both liquor and iced seafood. In the Cuban heat, the ice melted and patrons taunted the owner José (Joe) García Río that he ran a “sloppy” place.
Here is a painting of sailors having a sloppy shindig at the place.
The exact story of how the sandwich came to be is unknown, but we can see how quickly became part of American culture. Women left their kitchens to for factory labor during WWII, and didn’t have much time to cook. Meat rations were low, and were often just ground beef. Sloppy Joes made it both cheap and easy stretch 1 pound of ground beef to feed a family. Now with women still in the workplace, busy moms still cook the All-American Sloppy Joe. I hope this Vegan version is everything you remember of a sloppy joe, but with a bit more of a grown up appeal.
1 cup uncooked lentils
4 cups water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced small
1 green pepper, diced small
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon salt
8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 tablespoons maple syrup
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon yellow mustard (wet mustard)
4 to 6 kaiser rolls or sesame buns (wheat free if it is a concern)
Put the lentils in a small sauce pot and pour in 4 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are soft. Drain and set aside.
About 10 minutes before the lentils are done boiling, preheat a medium soup pot over medium heat. Saute the onion and pepper in the oil for about 7 minutes, until softened. Add the garlic and saute a minute more.
Add the cooked lentils, the chili powder, oregano and salt and mix. Add the tomato sauce and tomato paste. Cook for about 10 minutes. Add the maple syrup, brown sugar, nutritional yeast and mustard and heat through.
Turn the heat off and let sit for about 10 minutes, so that the flavors can meld, or go ahead and eat immediately if you can’t wait. I like to serve these open faced, with a scoop of snobby joe on each slice of the bun.