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Recipe: Southern-ish Sloppy Joes

Southern comfort food made healthy, delicious, and vegetarian.

Food Network Star Damaris Phillips found herself in a pickle. How could she cook for the man she loved, an ethical vegetarian, and stay true to her culinary roots? The Southern chef found her answer by embracing vegetarian cooking and creating healthy yet flavorful versions of her traditional favorites. Phillips’ new book, Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy, is a love story that turned into a collection of recipes. Within its pages are both healthy and not so healthy recipes for Southern favorites, including Grammy’s Horseradish Meatless Meatloaf, Beer Cheese & Mac, Granny’s Shepherd’s Pie and Baked “Fried” Green Tomatoes. Try whipping up a batch of Phillips’ game day favorite, Southern-ish Sloppy Joes. This recipe includes all the fixin’s of a traditional Sloppy Joes sandwich, but the meat is replaced with soy or seitan crumbles. And if the carnivore in your household still isn’t keen on trying this vegetarian alternative, we’ve included Phillips’ instructions for the classic version made with ground beef. Have a Sloppy Joe cook-off—I bet no one will be able to tell the two versions apart.

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This dish will make you a convert to the world of vegetarian southern cooking.
It is a simple recipe that helps you realize that so much of what we love about meat dishes really comes from the seasonings and condiments that we eat them with. While this recipe has more ingredients than some of the other recipes in this book, each one of them is there to create the complex flavors that we expect from sloppy joes. Meat eaters and vegetarians alike love this recipe, and if you are attempting to try out a vegetarian recipe on a mixed crowd, this is a great choice. Everyone walks away with full bellies and smiles on their faces.

2 tablespoons refined coconut oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
11⁄2 pounds (680 g) soy or seitan crumbles
1 (6-ounce/170-g) can tomato paste
1/4 cup (60 ml) Bourbon
3 tablespoons soy sauce, or more to taste
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 tablespoons sorghum syrup
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, chopped
12 slider buns
Olive oil

Heat the coconut oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Add the red pepper and onion and sauté until just beginning to turn translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the crumbles and cook for another 2 minutes, until the crumbles are heated through.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the tomato paste, Bourbon, soy sauce, vinegar, mustard, sorghum, cumin, liquid smoke, red pepper flakes, and 1/2 cup (120 ml) water.

Stir the tomato paste mixture and the garlic into the skillet. Simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes. Season with more soy sauce if needed.

Toast the slider buns with a little olive oil in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Spoon the sloppy joe mixture onto the buns, and garnish with shredded cabbage or iceberg lettuce. Serve right away!

Reduce the coconut oil to 1 tablespoon and replace the crumbles with 11/2 pounds (680 g) 90/10 ground beef. Follow the steps as directed, but allow the ground beef to brown and cook through completely, 5 to 7 minutes, before adding the tomato paste mixture. All the other cooking times and methods remain the same.




Recipe from Southern Girl Meets Vegetarian Boy by Damaris Phillips. ©Damaris Phillips, 2017. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Abrams.



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