Category Archives: Beans & Lentils

Fast and Easy Vegan Sloppy Joes

FullSizeRender-4We have an a bunch of extra hamburger buns at the house post-Memorial Day gathering. We already had veggie burgers one night, so I had to think up something else for the rest.  I decided to try a new sloppy joe recipe, did a quick Google search and came up with one on I had everything on hand already — even better.

You can get these on the table in less than an hour —  you can’t beat that. These are actually very similar to the crockpot lentil sloppy joes I made on Fox 2 Detroit a few years back, but are even easier with fewer ingredients. One difference is the balsamic vinegar. At first thought it seemed strange, but you know what the difference is between, say, ketchup and tangy barbecue sauce? Vinegar. It really gives it a nice sweet and tangy flavor at the end.

FullSizeRender-5These will be in the family rotation for sure. I thought they could use a little more flavor. Though the garlic was my own addition, I think next time I’ll add more seasoning — more cumin, more chili powder and go from there. They were, indeed, sloppy. I don’t think I could have cooked them down anymore to be less sloppy, but next time I might try. Really, I think that’s just how it goes. Be sure and have a good solid bun — you’ll probably still need a fork in the end.  If you’re eating open-faced, you’re all set I guess.

The whole family took these down — baby included (sans bun of course). We ate them with a common side dish around here — pan roasted lemon green beans.

• 1 Tbsp. olive oil
• 1 small onion, diced
• 1 small red or yellow bell pepper, diced (I did 3/4 red and 1/4 green because it’s what I had)
• 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 tsp. cumin
• 1 tsp. chili powder
1 c. French lentils (I did a mix of green and brown)
• 3 c. water
• 28 oz. tomato sauce
• 3 Tbsp. tomato paste
• 1 tsp. Sriracha hot sauce (optional… I omitted this for the kids. The baby actually does alright with spice. The older babe, not a fan.)
• 1 tsp. salt
• 2 tsp. balsamic  vinegar
• buns
• optional toppings: onions, pickles, avocado, coleslaw, etc.

1. Heat the olive oil in a medium, heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add onion, pepper and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until softened.

2. Sprinkle in cumin and chili powder and cook an additional minute. Then add tomato paste and stir to incorporate.

3. Add lentils, water, tomato sauce and hot sauce, if using. Increase heat to high and bring to a simmer. Lower heat so it’s just bubbling and cook uncovered 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (I accidentally left covered, so my cook time was longer.) Add more water if it cooks out before 30 minutes is up.

4. Taste and if they are tender (they should be a little ‘al dente’ — have just a little bit of bite left), add salt and vinegar. Serve on buns or open-faced on toast.

Vegan Crockpot Lentil Sloppy Joes

I made vegan crockpot lentil sloppy joes on Fox 2 Detroit’s morning show for their Meatless Mondays segment. Check it out!

Crockpot Lentil Sloppy Joes:

Homemade Black Bean Burgers

Hello! It has been far too long since I’ve posted a REAL post. I’ve been crazy busy with Fresh Chef Detroit (a good problem to have, no doubt!) and have a handful of half-posts started. I’d really like to get back to doing at least one every few days. Here’s a quick one…

Just like many of the people who hire me, I come home after a day of work hungry and often reach for something less than healthy while I decide what to “really” eat. In an effort to curb that, I whipped up a feast yesterday that I intended to help feed us throughout this week. It has been less than 24 hours and these already are gone. But they were easy enough that I just might have to make more tomorrow.  🙂

They don’t necessarily stick together the best (which often is the case with homemade burgers like this), but a little more time in the oven, or a little time quickly fried in a skillet could have helped this. The flavors were great though. I ate mine dressed like a regular burger, but you could also really push the southwest flavors and top with salsa and guac. My squeeze even had one with hummus on it tonight — the possibilities are endless!

Makes 4-5 large burgers

• 1 (16 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
• 1/2 bell pepper (I used red), cut into 2 inch pieces
• 1/2 medium onion, cut into wedges
• 3 cloves garlic, peeled
• 1 egg or egg replacer for 1 egg
• 1 Tbsp. chili powder
•  1 Tbsp. cumin
• 1 tsp. Thai chili sauce or hot sauce
• 1/2 c. bread crumbs

 1. If grilling, preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil a sheet of aluminum foil. If baking, preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a baking sheet.

2. In a medium bowl, mash black beans with a fork until thick and pasty.

3. In a food processor, finely chop bell pepper, onion, and garlic (or just finely dice if you don’t have a processor), then stir into mashed beans.

4. In a small bowl, stir together egg, chili powder, cumin, and chili sauce.5. Stir the egg mixture into the mashed beans. Mix in bread crumbs until the mixture is sticky and holds together. Divide mixture into four patties.6. If grilling, place patties on foil, and grill about 8 minutes on each side. If baking, place patties on baking sheet, and bake about 10 minutes on each side. 

Refried Beans

My good friend Jay made this recipe and said they are crazy good and she’ll never buy refried beans again — that’s what I call a glowing review. I haven’t made them yet, but I had to share. It’s a Mark Bittman recipe, if you know who he is (he knows how to cook everything and tells us so). I have black beans in the cupboard, so I might have to whip up a batch of black refried beans, yes?

• 2 cans pinto beans rinsed
• 2 Tbsp. butter
• 1/4 c. chopped onion
• 2 tsp. cumin (or to taste)
• 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
• salt and pepper

From Jay:
1. Melt butter in a frying pan, add beans.  Mush using a potato masher, fork or the back of your spoon until you get the consistency you like.

2. Add onion, cumin, cayenne and salt and pepper.  Continue stirring until the onions are a little tender.  I added a little water to thin it up a bit since it was hard to stir.

3. Eat!  I ate mine with salsa, sourcream and tortilla chips.  No more canned refried beans ever again, these are way good…  I bet you could add garlic or really anything else you want.


Dutch Oven Cannellini al Gratin

I continued my quest to find and create delicious, meat-free comfort food this weekend with a recipe out of my latest issue of Vegetarian Times (which is packed this month with all kinds of awesomeness).

I had only glanced at the recipe when I went to the grocery store, and, fortunately, I already had or bought almost all the ingredients and was able to pull it off. My squeeze loved it and so did I. Next time, I think I’ll pop some bread in the food processor to make chunkier bread crumbs for the top, as the finer, store-bought ones were a little…sandy, for lack of a better term. But make no mistake — this is serious comfort food at its finest.  This will feed five or six people easily, or it would freeze really well to eat some other time.

•  1 1/2 dried cannellini beans (I used 2 cans cannellini beans)
• 6 sprigs plus 1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh thyme, divided (I didn’t have any fresh, so I employed some cheesecloth and lots of dried thyme)
• 3 sprigs plus 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, divided
• 1/2 medium onion, unpeeled, plus 1 large onion diced (2 c.)
• 3 whole cloves (I used a couple extra)
• 1/2 large or 1 medium fennel bulb, stalks and fronds reserved; bulb quartered and diced (2 c.)
• 12 cloves garlic — 6 whole, 6 minced — divided
• 3 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
• 2 c. diced carrots
• 1 tsp. white wine vinegar (I was out, so I used apple cider vinegar)
• 3/4 c. coarsely grated parmesan cheese or parm substitute
• 1 1/2 c. fresh bread crumbs

1. Soak beans in large bowl of cold water overnight and drain. Using canned beans, I drained in a strainer, but tried not to rinse them too well, so they wouldn’t be rinsed clean.

2. Put beans in a 6 quart Dutch oven,  and add enough water to cover by about 2 inches.

3. Do the following and add to pot:
• Tie thyme and parsley sprigs together and add to pot. In my case, I tied the dried thyme up in cheesecloth and tied the parsley sprigs to it.
• Fennel fronds and stalks, removed from bulb. This required me to cut some of them to fit.
• Pierce onion half with cloves. Because the onion stuck out of the liquid, I ended up putting the clove side face down.
• Halve six of the garlic cloves. It’s OK to leave the peel on.

4. Partially cover and bring to a boil. Turn oven on, to preheat to 400.

5. Uncover, reduce heat to medium low and simmer 35 to 40 minutes, or until beans are just tender (not an issue if you use canned — they’re already tender. BUT they don’t soak up deliciousness as much as dried beans would).

6. Drain beans, reserving cooking liquid. Discard herb bundles, onion, and fennel fronds. Here the directions said to wipe out the dutch oven… but I didn’t.

7. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add carrots and diced fennel and season with salt a bit. Cover and cook 10 minutes, or until beginning to brown, stirring frequently.

8. Add diced onion, add more salt if you like (I didn’t) and cook, covered, 6 to 8 minutes, or until onion is soft and bottom of pan is browning, stirring occasionally.

9. Add minced garlic and cook one minute, or until fragrant, and remove from heat.

10. Stir in vinegar and deglaze the pan (use it to scrape up all the garbage stuck to the bottom of the pan).

11. Add beans, chopped thyme, 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley, 1/2 c. cheese or cheese substitute and  1 1/2 to 2 c. bean liquid, and stir well to combine. The directions say the liquid should come up to 1 1/2 to 2 inches below top of beans, but I think I’ll put in more next time. I actually thought this direction was a mistake at first, but can’t find anything to back that up. I think more liquid would have bubbled up through the bread crumbs a bit, making the top crunchier and less “sandy” as it was.

12. Put bread crumbs and remaining 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley in a bowl and drizzle in that last 1 Tbsp. oil to moisten the crumbs. Perhaps, instead of more liquid in the previous step, adding a bit more oil or even some of the bean liquid here would have moistened the crumbs more and solved the problem. Yes, I think that’s what I’ll do next time. Thanks for talking that out with me…

13. Spread breadcrumb mixture over the top of the bean mixture and bake, uncovered, 40 to 45 minutes, or until top is browned and juices have bubbled down below the surface (see? doesn’t that make it sound like the liquid was supposed to be ABOVE the beans to begin with?), leaving brown rim around edge of crust.

Cool at least 20 minutes before diving in so beans can absorb a little more deliciousness.

According to VT, each 1-cup serving has only 285 calories, 17 g protein, 11 g of fiber, 5 g of fat (1 g sat fat), 43 g carbs and 150 mg sodium. Pretty good stats for a delicious and filling meal!

Cooking Club: Chickpea Salad with Orange and Cinnamon Dressing

Katie contributed this salad to our orange-themed cooking club. It was one of the only dishes that didn’t necessarily LOOK orange, but you tasted (and saw) the oranges in there. It was a light refreshing twist to what you would expect. This is a crowd-pleasure for sure.

•  15 oz. chickpeas dried, soaked in plenty of water overnight
• 2 tomatoes, chopped
• 1 small handful mint, finely chopped
• 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
• 1/4 cup  feta cheese
• 6 dried, plump apricots, sliced

•  juice from 1/2 lemon
• 1 garlic clove, crushed
• zest from 1  orange
• 1 tsp honey
• 1/2 tsp ground cumin
• pinch of ground cinnamon
• pinch of sea salt
• extra virgin olive oil to taste

1. Drain the chickpeas, fill the saucepan of chickpeas with water and bring to boil. Let simmer for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain and rinse under cold water.

2. Combine the chickpeas, tomato, mint, onion and apricots in a bowl. Top with crumbled feta and lightly toasted almonds.

3. In a small bowl, mix the dressing ingredients together and pour over the salad. Toss well and serve.

Vegan Lentil Burgers

I keep saying I’m going to make some kind of homemade veggie burger and I’m not sure why I never got around to it…until today! I meant for them to be black bean burgers, but somehow forgot the one thing I went to the store for (please tell me you’ve done that before). I was pretty sure I had some at home, but… I didn’t. Luckily, I found a bag of lentils in my pantry.

I glanced at a couple of random recipes, but really just threw together my own concoction. After a little trial and error with the cooking times, I think they both looked and tasted good. I think I’ll keep trying new additions (more veggies!) and different beans, but both my squeeze and I liked it, so I guess that’s all that counts.

I made the mistake of saying, “It was easy!” — now it seems this might be a weekly request… (but it really was easy, so that’s OK). I decided if I made the mixture sans egg replacer/flax mixture, you could make it a day or two ahead of time and add that at the last minute before frying.

Again, this isn’t scientific, but it worked so here’s what I did.

• 3 c. cooked lentils (I cooked the whole 1 lb. bag to be safe. Half would have been fine)
• 1 small cooking onion, cut into 4
• 1 medium red pepper, chopped into small chunks
• 1-2 cloves garlic
• 1 c. bread crumbs/3 slices of bread
• egg replacer for 3-4 eggs (4 Tbsp. ground flax seed and water in this case)
• salt and pepper
• olive oil

1. If you don’t have a container of bread crumbs (like me), I started by tossing 3 slices of bread (I was hurrying, or I think I would have toasted it first) into a food processor. It made 1 1/2 c. of crumbs and I ended up using a little over one cup. Set aside after processing (I chose a 2 c. measuring cup so I could see what I was working with).

2. I then processed the red pepper, small onion, garlic, salt and pepper until it was a liquidy mush. I may have added some fresh parsley at this point too. I took THAT out and set aside in the bowl that I would mix the whole thing in.

3. Prepare egg replacer or, in my case, whisk ground flax seed and water. It’s supposed to be 1 Tbsp. ground flax seed and 3 Tbsp. water per egg (I was planning on three), but I ended up adding an extra Tbsp. of flax when it wasn’t thickening up enough (perhaps I was just being impatient). So, it ended up being 4 Tbsp. ground flax seed and 9 Tbsp. water. I whisked, let it sit for a bit, then whisked some more and was happy. It was kind of sticky and goopy — seemed like an egg to me!

4. I processed 3 c. cooked lentils (prepare about 8 oz. according to the package directions) with the egg mixture. About 2/3 of the mixture was pureed and the rest were still mostly whole lentils, which is what I had envisioned, so that worked for me.

5. Mix into pepper/onion/garlic mixture, then add bread crumbs until it’s as thick as you want it. I did this until it was like a thick, sticky hummus consistency. Spice accordingly (here’s where I’d add some hot sauce if you like it spicy).

6. Heat skillet over medium heat and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. After much trial and error, I found that if you take a scoop of the batter and spread out to burger size, cover and cook over medium heat (or just under medium) for about 7 minutes, flip, then cook the other side for 4-5 minutes until browned to your likeness.

I was pretty happy for this first attempt and will definitely be trying this — likely with some variations — very soon!