Tag Archives: Kid-Friendly

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Forbidden Rice Blog | Vegetarian Sloppy Joes (3 of 5)

Are you one of those folks who plans their family’s meals a week at a time? I try to be that person… but let’s be real. I really suck at meal planning. Part of the deal is I frequent the grocery store often enough that purchasing the ingredients for just one dinner isn’t a huge deal — often I know I’ll be back in the store again the next day at some point, thus being able to shop for tomorrow’s dinner… tomorrow. The other aspect I somewhat enjoy is the flexibility of not knowing what the hell I’m going to cook. Sometimes I wake up at 8:30 in the morning and think what am I going to make tonight? Then I peruse recipes over my morning cup of coffee for ideas. (Some days this isn’t a pleasant activity; I wake up wishing I knew what was coming so I could cut out the extra work!)

So on a day I had already planned our dinner, and in fact decided I was going to make these burgers, while taking Silas to baseball practice he suddenly said, “Hey! Can we please have sloppy joes sometime soon?” I thought about what I had planned for dinner and realized I could probably transform my plan of burgers into sloppy joes, using ingredients we already had at home. “Sure! We can have them tonight,” I said, only to realize when I got home we were out of ketchup, a staple ingredient in sloppy joe mixture! (Who runs out of ketchup?!) Not wanting to run to the store at the mad-rush hour,  I did a little hunting online and figured out there are many quick homemade ketchup recipes, and simply made my own.

As a kid I remember loving when my mom made us sloppy joes — usually for a weekend lunch option. There’s certainly some childhood nostalgia when you first bite into one of these sandwiches. The culmination of those childhood memories and the deliciousness of the bite are unbeatable.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Vegetarian Sloppy Joes (2 of 5)

Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

Serves 8


For the Ketchup:
2 6-oz cans tomato paste
1/4 cup white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 tablespoon cane sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
1 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon dried mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon all-spice
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
small pinch of ground cloves
3/4 cup of water

For the Sloppy Joes:
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
2 tubes Lightlife Gimme Lean Vegetarian Sausage
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
1 cup water
1 full recipe of  ketchup (*see recipe below)
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
2 heaping teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon vegetarian worcestershire sauce
salt and freshly ground black pepper to your desire

8 large hamburger/kaiser/onion buns (really, whatever your preferred type is)
8 slices American cheese (optional)
dill pickles (for serving)

Forbidden Rice Blog | Vegetarian Sloppy Joes (4 of 5)


Make the ketchup: place all of the ingredients in bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate at least one hour to let the flavors come together.

Make the sloppy joes: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high. Once the oil is hot, crumble the Gimme Lean into the pot. Continue cooking until nicely browned, stirring frequently, breaking the larger chunks up.

Add in the green peppers and onions. Stir, and then add the 1 cup water, the ketchup and garlic. Stir to combine, and then add the brown sugar, chili powder, dry mustard, red pepper flakes, cumin, worcestershire, salt and pepper to taste. Stir to combine, and then cover and simmer over medium-low heat, another 20-30 minutes.

To serve, either steam or lightly toast the buns, open-faced. (I prefer steamed!) Add a slice of cheese if you’d like, then spoon a generous amount of the veggie-meat mixture onto the bottom roll. Top with the other bun and enjoy immediately, served alongside a crisp dill pickle (just do it).

Forbidden Rice Blog | Vegetarian Sloppy Joes (5 of 5)

Forbidden Rice Blog | Vegetarian Sloppy Joes (1 of 5)

Creamy Pesto Chik’n Lasagna with Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomato Ricotta

Forbidden Rice Blog | Creamy Pesto Chik'n Lasagna with Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomato Ricotta

For as long as I can remember, my mom has always had an ever-growing collection of cookbooks. The extensive collection was (and probably still is) filled with local Hawai’i recipe books, Korean, Japanese, and Chinese cookbooks up the wa-zoo. There were books whose covers were aged, pages stained with various ingredients from when she cooked those particular recipes. When we went to the library, she almost immediately went to the cookbook section to scope out new books as well (a trait I have happily, apparently, inherited).

One of the cookbooks I lovingly recall is the original Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen, first published in the 1970’s.  The book was a gift to my parents when they married, from my grandparents. The original book contains handwritten recipes, colorless, hand-drawn pictures. (There’s a newer version of this cookbook, where color has been added and many of the recipes have been slightly altered.)

My mom had a handful of staple recipes she’d use from the Moosewood Cookbook. The pasta al cavolfiore (or spaghetti with cauliflower) was probably my most frequent request. The broccoli mushroom noodle casserole was another go-to favorite around our house. However, my top favorite recipe — the one I’d get most excited about when I saw the marinara cooking on the stove, and the cookbook laid out on the kitchen counter, was the vegetable lasagna.

A good lasagna is no small feat.  I think every aspect needs to be flavorful, but not so much that one part of the lasagna overpowers another layer of flavor. The following lasagna isn’t one you’ll find in the beloved Moosewood, but it’s a good one! This pesto lasagna is creamy, very filling and most definitely doesn’t lack in flavor.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Creamy Pesto Chik'n Lasagna with Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomato Ricotta

Creamy Pesto Chik’n Lasagna with Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomato Ricotta

Yields 6-10 servings.

1- 16 ounce box lasagna noodles
4 ounces butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
8 ounces prepared basil pesto
1 1/2 cups No-Chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 shallots, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
18 ounces Quorn Chik’n Tenders
1- 19.75 ounce can quartered artichoke hearts
16 ounces whole milk ricotta
2 eggs, beaten
8 ounces sun dried tomatoes, julienned
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon granulated garlic
1 pound part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

Forbidden Rice Blog | Creamy Pesto Chik'n Lasagna with Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomato Ricotta

Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Working batches, cook the lasagna noodles until they are soft and pliable but not limp, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove the pasta from the boiling water and lay flat on a sheet tray to cool. Set aside until needed.

Prepare the sauce: In a large heavy-bottomed pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Whisk in the flour until a slight paste forms. Cook for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the pesto, broth, milk and cream. Occasionally stir until the sauce thickens (6-8 minutes). Whisk in the one teaspoon of granulated garlic, teaspoon of salt, and half teaspoon of pepper. Reduce heat to low until the sauce is needed.

Prepare the Chik’n: In a medium pan, heat the 1/4-cup of olive oil over medium-high. Add in the shallots and minced garlic, then sauté until the shallots soften (3-4 minutes). Add the Quorn Chik’n Tenders and artichoke hearts. Sauté until the tenders are golden brown.

Forbidden Rice Blog | Creamy Pesto Chik'n Lasagna with Artichokes and Sun Dried Tomato Ricotta

Prepare the ricotta: In a large mixing bowl, combine the ricotta, eggs, sun dried tomatoes, teaspoon of salt, parmesan cheese, tablespoon of dried thyme and the tablespoon of granulated garlic. Stir until well combined.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

Assemble the lasagna: In the bottom of a 9 by 13-inch deep-dish baking dish, add a couple ladlefuls of sauce and spread out in an even layer. Arrange a layer of the lasagna noodles to completely cover the sauce (4 noodles should work).

Next, add half of the tomato-ricotta mixture, spreading it over the layer of noodles. Add half of the Chik’n over the ricotta layer. Add 1/3 of the sauce over the Chik’n, followed by 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella. Repeat these layers again, then add one more layer of noodles, followed by the remaining sauce, then the remaining mozzarella.

Lightly oil a sheet of foil, then cover the lasagna, oil-side over the cheese. Place the whole pan on a baking sheet (in case of overflow). Bake the lasagna for 1 hour and 15 minutes, removing the foil for the last 15 minutes of cooking. Cool for 15-20 minutes before slicing.