I’ve been working on a project all day that left me no time to go to the store or to contemplate dinner. My younger son’s homework kept him occupied all day as well. For his English homework, he had to read and comment on two short stories. The first story was “The Necklace” by Guy de Maupassant; the second was “The Rocking Horse Winner” by D.H. Lawrence.
Now hold on, I really am going to come to a point about food here.
So, with these two stories in mind and dinner to prepare, I considered my options. “The Necklace” is old, French, and sort of a downer. I didn’t see much potential for a MoFo-able meal tonight. “The Rocking Horse Winner” is more contemporary, set in England, and even more depressing than “The Necklace.” Way more depressing.
But I was stuck. I had to make a quick decision and get rolling. Here’s how this went (and feel free to imagine a big thought bubble here as you read this part):
The Rocking Horse Winner –> Horses –> Cowboys –> Covered Wagons –>Wagon Wheel Pasta –> Sloppy Joes on Wagon Wheel Pasta
Now, if you ignore what “The Rocking Horse Winner” is actually about (which isn’t really vegan or happy or a healthy mother/son relationship), this makes great sense. With the kind of excitement that only word association can bring, I set to work.
I had nearly everything I needed besides the key ingredient: Wagon Wheel Pasta. My husband had just finished mowing the lawns, so I batted my lashes at him and asked if he wouldn’t mind picking some up for me.
I’ll tell you a secret, though. I had an ulterior motive, a dark underbelly to my reason for sending him out to the store. He hates beans.
I’d quickly googled vegan sloppy joe recipes and found two that lassoed me in with their possibilities. One was one from Rachel Ray http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/rachael-ray/sloppy-veg-head-joe-recipe/index.html and one I found here http://hellyeahitsvegan.com/vegan-sloppy-joes/.
Combining them and tweaking them to fit my pantry holdings, this is what I came up with:
Vegan Sloppy Joes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 15 oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup TVP
- 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes, liquid reserved
- 12 oz can tomato paste
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 tablespoon vinegar
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups water
- vegan parmesan for sprinkling on top, if desired
Put the TVP into a small mixing bowl and add the reserved liquid from the stewed tomatoes and about ½ cup of water to hydrate it. Set aside. Sauté the celery, red onion, and garlic in a tablespoon of olive oil until softened, about 5 minutes. The onion and garlic cook faster, but I do like to make the celery a bit softer.
Now, you can certainly use the black beans whole, but I was trying to disguise them. I put mine in my food processor and pulsed them for about 15 seconds. I put them in a separate pan with a tablespoon of olive oil and started cooking. This is where things got interesting.
My husband hates beans, but he despises refried beans. Looking into that skillet, I realized I’d inadvertently created something that was looking increasingly like refried beans. In a bit of a panic because the store isn’t too far away, I turned to grab my hydrated TVP. It had turned a disturbing shade of pink. I added it to the skillet and mixed the two ingredients together. Honestly, it didn’t look good. It looked more than questionable. It looked wrong. I didn’t take a picture. Instead, I considered putting it down the garbage disposal because it was so frightening. But I was running out of time for dinner and MoFo. Hey, I figured, I’d just tell you all if I had a total disaster. Time to push on!
I heard the door open. Oh no! My husband announced he’d reached for his wallet to pay and realized he’d left it at home. “Aww, that’s too bad,” I sympathized while I danced a little jig. Bonus time!
I added the rest of the ingredients to the skillet and brought it to a boil, stirring constantly. Then I lowered the heat to medium and covered the skillet. On to coleslaw!
I used the Cabbage, Apple, and Raisin Slaw recipe from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas. http://www.amazon.com/Vegetarian-Family-Cookbook-Nava-Atlas/dp/0767913965/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350186091&sr=8-1&keywords=the+vegetarian+family+cookbook
I subbed in craisins for the raisins and added a liberal sprinkling of salt, pepper, and celery seed, but otherwise I followed her directions. It’s both tart and sweet owing to the lemon and the craisins. It’s a great side for a family dinner.
Just before my husband arrived home, I scrubbed away the bean evidence and checked the sloppy joes. They looked great with only a few rebellious beans poking out here and there. I did put in more sugar than most people seem to admit to using, but it smelled just the way a sloppy joe should – like a barbeque with a kiss of sweet. Yum!
After the wagon wheels were ready, it was time for the big test. Five seconds after he got his plate, I casually asked him what he thought.
“The coleslaw is great!”
Hmm…. But then…
“Wow! This sloppy joe sauce is awesome!” And he grinned at me and gave me a thumbs up!
All right! If that’s not a huge, blinking, neon sign of success, I don’t know what is! Okay, maybe that is plus the fact that he went back for seconds! Yahoo!
I’m off to wash the dishes and bask in the glow of my sloppy joe success. The beans are still my little secret and will be… until, of course, he finds out the very same way you are now!