Sloppy Josephines Recipe From Family Vegetarian Cookbook

This veggie twist on a classic kid favorite recipe hails from mom cook Sarah Matheny's recipe book, 'More Peas, Thank You.' Try Sloppy Josephines yourself!

Looking to shake up a family staple meal? Look no further than this recipe for sloppy Josephines. That’s right: Sloppy Joes can step aside for this round of supper. This slightly more refined version offers plenty of flavor — minus the meat.

This vegetarian-friendly dish hails from the kitchen of Oregon mom Sarah Matheny, a former divorce-and-custody attorney. When her girls were at that magical age when boys were “icky,” she realized traditional sloppy Joes just wouldn’t do. So she got creative.

In her cookbook More Peas, Thank You: 85+ Vegetarian Recipes for Delicious & Healthy Meals, Matheny serves up her spin on the messy dinner classic. Instead of ground beef, though, she swaps in dried lentils, served atop toasted whole-wheat hamburger buns.

Want to try her sophisticated spin for yourself? Here’s Matheny’s recipe for Sloppy Josephines.

(Tip: If beef is what’s for dinner for your family, try out this Detroit-style recipe for Coney Island-style chili – served up on hot dog buns for max authenticity.)


  • 4 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 cup dried lentils, rinsed and drained
  • Cooking spray or oil, to grease skillet
  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 14-oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup all-natural barbecue sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 whole-wheat hamburger buns, split and toasted
  • 4 pickles, sliced


  1. Bring broth or water to boil in a medium pot over medium-high heat. Add lentils, bring to a boil, lower heat and cook until tender, approximately 30 minutes.
  2. Drain lentils and set aside.
  3. In a skillet that has been lightly greased with cooking spray or oil, add onions and sauté over medium heat until onions start to soften and brown, about five minutes.
  4. Add garlic, chili powder and oregano. Sauté for one to two minutes.
  5. Add tomato sauce, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and barbecue sauce. Stir to combine and then add lentils. Mix thoroughly and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Scoop lentil mixture onto toasted buns and garnish with pickles. Makes eight sandwiches with approximately half cup filling each.

Photo and recipe republished with permission from Harlequin Nonfiction.

This post was originally published in 2019 and is updated regularly. 

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