Sloppy Joe, Slop, Sloppy Joe.

That’s right, we just jumped in my kitchen time machine to return to the early 90s for a little Lunch Lady Land dance off. Thus concludes this post.

Just kidding.

No, you might remember that Drew and I, inspired by the Meatless Mondays Movement and our checkbook, are making an effort to eat more vegetarian meals during the week and I thought that I would share one of my recipe triumphs with you.

Tempeh Sloppy Joes. Now if Tempeh sounds like a destination in Arizona to you, and not something edible, just use ground beef in place of the tempeh and go forth and be merry. This is an awesome Sloppy Joe recipe, and a great way to sneak veggies in, so whether you go meat or veggie, I highly recommend it.  This is my modified combination of a couple of recipes, so as with everything I post, by all means, make this puppy yours by adding or taking away anything that doesn’t suit you.

Amelia’s Tempeh Sloppy Joes
Serves 6 (or 4 really really generously)

1 TBS Olive Oil (If using beef or bison, you shouldn’t need this, but with ground turkey, you might still want it)
1 small zuchinnini, ends trimmed
1 carrot, top trimmed
1/2 small onion
1 stalk celery
2-3 cloves of garlic (more or less depending on your taste)
16 oz Tempeh or 1 lb ground beef etc
1 TBS steak sauce
2 TBS red wine vinegar
2 TBS Worcestershire sauce
16 oz (2 c.) tomato sauce
2 TBS tomato paste
salt and pepper to taste
Hot sauce (we use Sriacha, you can leave this out if you don’t want the heat)
Healthy dash of Italian herbs
Toasted Buns of your choice

Cut Tempeh into quarters and steam for 8 minutes according to package directions. Meanwhile, using the grater blade on your food processor, (or just the regular blade, but that grater blade is just awesome for this if you have it) grate zuchinni, onion, carrot, garlic, celery. Remove tempeh from steam, grate it directly in with the veggies.  Heat a pan over medium-high heat and add olive oil.* Add veggie/tempeh mixture and steak sauce and cook through, about 5-8 minutes.  Add vinegar, worcestershire, salt and pepper, herbs and hot sauce and toss to coat.  Add tomato sauce and tomato paste.  Allow mixture to simmer for about 10 more minutes depending on how thick you would like it to be (because of the tomato paste, it will thicken as it simmers), stirring regularly.  Toast buns, and serve it up!

*If using meat in place of tempeh, obs skip the steaming step, add your meat at this stage and brown.  Once meat is brown and crumbly, add veggie mixture. Everything else is the same.

So that’s it! I know that this seems like a lot of work for a weeknight meal, but I can get it all done in about 30 minutes, and if you don’t have a food processor, or just don’t want to use it, you could buy a bag of that broccoli/carrot pre-chopped slaw, give it a quick coarse chop and then just mash your tempeh with a fork after steaming and combine.  Also, this makes quite a bit so it’s a great one to make at the beginning of the week to have for lunches, or to freeze for another night.  Also, I tried to double this recipe once and it did not work (it never got thick) so if you do that, plan for lots of extra simmer time, ok?

Alright: the pictures.  They’re pretty bad, but I took them, so I might as well share!
Here’s what it will look like in the pan:

And then on the plate:

These gorgeous plates were a gift from my stepmother and little sister, they carried them all the way back from Japan for us, and we LOVE them!  We ate our Joes with roasted cauliflower (toss with 1 TBS each soy sauce, honey, curry powder, olive oil and season with salt and pepper, let that marinate for about 20 minutes and then roast at 450 for about 20 mins on a foil lined pan…so delicious!) and called it a night.

Now a quick note about Meatless Mondays.  This is a movement to get families all over the world to eat vegetarian just once a week, which seems reasonable enough.  Here are a couple of the environmental reasons why:

  • REDUCE YOUR CARBON FOOTPRINT. The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization estimates the meat industry generates nearly one-fifth of the man-made greenhouse gas emissions that are accelerating climate change worldwide . . .far more than transportation. And annual worldwide demand for meat continues to grow. Reining in meat consumption once a week can help slow this trend.
  • MINIMIZE WATER USAGE. The water needs of livestock are tremendous, far above those of vegetables or grains. An estimated 1,800 to 2,500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef. Soy tofu produced in California requires 220 gallons of water per pound.
  • HELP REDUCE FOSSIL FUEL DEPENDENCE. On average, about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S. Compare this to the 2.2 calories of fossil fuel energy needed to produce one calorie of plant-based protein. Moderating meat consumption is a great way to cut fossil fuel demand.
  • SAVE FINITE RAIN FOREST SPACE. For each quarter-pound hamburger made from Central American beef, 55 square feet of tropical rainforest are destroyed for grazing land. When the cleared trees are burned, 500 pounds of CO2 is emitted into the atmosphere. We import approximately 135 million pounds of Central American beef each year.

Obviously, buying your meat locally or raising it yourself negates a lot of these concerns, but despite the pig that’s in our neighbor’s yard, Drew and I aren’t quite to the cattle rearing phase of our lives.  Most impressively, according to Michael Pollan, if everyone in America cut out meat ONE NIGHT/week, it would be the equivalent of taking 20 MILLION MID-SIZE SEDANS OFF THE ROAD.  That totally blows my mind. Plus it’s saving us an average of $15.00/week (we’re eating vegetarian quite a bit right now) or about $750.00/year.  That’s almost a family vacation.  The thing I like about this is that it reminds us that making a small change can make a big difference.  If you’re a meat and potatoes kind of gal, could you go one day a week without meat knowing that a turkey sandwich is waiting for you tomorrow?  I like these kinds of middle of the road campaigns.

Anyhow, I will stop ranting, and for those of you that are here strictly for Asher content, there’s lots of that coming your way very soon, I promise!  Thanks for playing.