Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

posted in: Recipes | 1

Sloppy Joes

Happy Valentine’s Day! This is one of my all-time favorite dishes. 

Back when I would eat meat, I used to love it when my mom would make Sloppy Joe’s (we called them “Barbecue”), which generally involved a pound or two of ground beef, some spices, and other goodies.

Fortunately, this is one of the entrees that has a terrific homologue in the domain of vegetarianism. The recipe we use is from the New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook, a book Mel picked up either at a library book sale or through The recipe goes like this:

New Farm Vegetarian Cookbook


  • 1 large onion (diced)
  • 1 – 2 medium green peppers
  • 3 Tbsp. oil (vegetable, canola, or olive)
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 2 1/2 cups (~1 can) tomato sauce
  • 1 – 2 Tbsp. Chili powder
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1 Tbsp. Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups dry TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein)

In a large skillet, saute the onion and peppers in the oil. Once the onions are slightly translucent, add the remaining ingredients, in the order listed, and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve on sandwich buns, just like you would with Sloppy Joes! (makes approx. 8 sandwiches)

When we make this recipe, we typically go a little bit light on the TVP and only use 1 cup. (1 cup goes a LONG way) We typically scale back the recipe just a little bit, using a little bit less tomato sauce (1 can), TVP (1 cup), and Green Peppers (just 1). This makes enough for Mel, myself, and our son to eat for dinner AND for lunch the next day! (about 6 sandwiches)

Textured Vegetable Protein can be purchased from the Clear Creek Co-Op in bulk, for just around $2 / pound. A single pound of TVP will last you for a while — 1 pound is right around 5 cups of TVP, which is enough for 5 meals! Compare that to 3 – 5 lbs of ground beef (90% lean costs $2 – $3 per pound!)

What’s really great about this dish is that the texture is so close to that of traditional meat-based sloppy joes, you will barely notice the difference. It has a delicious combination of flavors, and while I don’t have the nutritional facts in front of me, I’ll wager that it’s healthier than the meat version. 

If you’re looking to start out with some truly vegetarian meals, then we heartily recommend trying this one.

  1. annalisa

    I wholeheartedly agree, Aaron. TVP can be quite hit-or-miss, in my opinion, mostly due to its texture (since it has no taste). I’ve tossed it in soups for extra protein, and 45 minutes of cooking later it’s still tough and takes more chewing attention than anything else in my bowl. Of course, that would probably be true of ground beef, too, if I put that in soup. And I know I’ve used some old TVP in my time.
    But TVP sloppy joes have NEVER steered me wrong, and the texture always seems just right. The lazy way is to buy a can of sloppy joe sauce, add TVP, and cook a bit. Making it from this recipe would certainly be healthier, though depending on the tomato sauce, could still pack a bunch of sodium.

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