Slow Cooker Lentil Sloppy Joes that are cooked in an Italian inspired tomato sauce with bell peppers, mushrooms, crushed tomatoes, garlic, and Italian seasoning. A great vegetarian entree.
These Tuscan Lentil Sloppy Joes couldn't be easier to make with the crockpot doing all the hard work. This vegetarian meal is filling, nutritious, and great for an easy weeknight meal or meal prep.
I am always trying to create slow cooker vegetarian dishes that aren't soups or stews. Not that I don't love a good soup, but it seems like that's all there is to make if you are a vegetarian and want to use your slow cooker. Lately, I have been experimenting with slow cooker vegetarian sloppy joe recipes and so far this Italian inspired version made with lentils has been my favorite.
The key to these slow cooker lentil sloppy joes is the sauce. It starts with onions, garlic, and bell peppers to build flavor. To that, we add crushed tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, Italian seasoning, paprika, and chili powder. The balsamic vinegar and Italian spices add some Italian flavors while the paprika and chili powder are a nod to classic Sloppy Joes.
It can be served over a bed of polenta, rice, or mashed cauliflower or the traditional way in a bun with some melted cheese. It's also delicious stuffed into some roasted peppers and covered in feta, mozzarella, or a drizzle of cashew cream if you are vegan.
Ideas for Serving Lentil Sloppy Joes
There are lots of different ways to serve these sloppy joes. Usually, I will serve them one way for dinner and then store some leftovers for lunches and serve them a different way so I don't get bored.
- Sandwiches: Go the traditional route and make delicious sloppy joes sandwiches. To keep things light and healthy consider reaching for a whole grain roll, grab some part skim shredded mozzarella, and I like to add some greens for freshness.
- Rice bowls: Use a bed of cauliflower or brown rice and make a quick grain bowl. Usually, I will throw in some extra veggies. Roasted broccoli, sauteed spinach, or arugula are my favorite options.
- Spaghetti: If you are from the Midwest, you probably know that there is a deep love for serving chili over spaghetti. Try a vegetarian version using these lentil sloppy joes served over cooked pasta with some shredded cheese and chopped onion. Trust me, it's dfelicious.
- Quesadillas: Make an Italian style quesadilla with these sloppy joes, shredded cheese, and your favorite whole wheat or low carb tortilla.
- Scrambles: I love the combination of lentils and eggs. Try making a quick scramble with your leftover sloppy joes or serve them with a fried egg on top.
Side Dishes for Slow Cooker Lentil Sloppy Joes
This is a very hearty dish on its own so normally I look to add some sides that are light and healthy. Here are some of my go-to side dishes for lentil sloppy joes.
- Roasted Parmesan Broccoli or Cauliflower makes the perfect side. The Parmesan pairs great with the Italian flavors in the sloppy joes.
- Needless to say, a green salad makes a great pairing for this hearty dish. Grab some arugula, cucumbers, tomatoes, and a lemon or balsamic dressing.
- If you are looking for a creamy base to serve with these sloppy joes, consider some Mashed Cauliflower or Creamy Spinach Polenta.
- Spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles are two good options for something light and healthy.
Can I make this in the Instant Pot?
This recipe can easily be converted for the Instant Pot. I like to start by sauteing the onions, peppers, mushrooms, and garlic in a touch of olive oil. Then add the remaining ingredients and cover. Cook on Manual mode for 13 minutes and let naturally release. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve as sandwiches, over rice, or with some roasted vegetables.
Recipe Ideas for Lentil Sloppy Joes
- Add spice: If you want some extra heat in your sloppy joes, add some red pepper flakes or double the chili powder.
- Add greens: Before serving, add some fresh spinach to the lentils and stir until the spinach wilts. If you prefer kale, just add it to the slow cooker from the start.
- Make it soup: Add vegetable broth to turn this into a Tuscan style lentil soup. This is also a great option for leftovers.
- Add protein: If you want to add some extra protein, you could stir in some cooked veggie crumbles, tempeh, or TVP (textured veggie protein) into the dish before serving.
- Up the classic sloppy joe flavor: If you are looking for a more classic flavor, add some Worcestershire sauce and brown sugar. You can also tone down the Italian spices and garlic. Lastly consider swapping in apple cider vinegar for the balsamic.
- Have leftovers: Toss the leftover lentils with either cauliflower rice, brown rice, or quinoa. Stuff it into bell peppers for some of the most amazing stuffed peppers. Eat them later in the week for another meal or freeze them for the future.
This post was originally shared in 2014 but has been updated with new informationm, tips, and photos.
Slow Cooker Tuscan Lentil Sloppy Joes
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- 1.5 cups lentils
- 1 onion, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 green bell peppers, chopped
- 2 cups mushrooms, chopped
- 2.5 cups crushed tomatoes
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- 1.5 tbsp. Italian seasoning
- 1.5 tsp. smoked paprika
- 1.5 tsp. chili powder (optional)
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- Salt and pepper
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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