Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Sloppy Joe Casserole...

The first time I ever ate a Sloppy Joe was the first time my husband ever cooked for me. Except he wasn’t my husband then, hell he wasn’t even my boyfriend! He was just a friend, a good friend, the kind of friend you share feelings with but are too afraid to act on, in that particular moment, you know? Actually that night he wasn’t just cooking for me, but for my family as well, or at least my mother and step-father, I don’t recall my brother being there but he might have been.

It was March, he was on Spring Break from University, he had literally just met my family a couple of days before, and there he was standing in the kitchen of my childhood home completely lost and entirely unsure of how to use an electric stove. It’s all gas in Chicagoland you see. I was excited, and impressed that a man was interested in cooking for me, and of course I was very curious to try this strange thing called a Sloppy Joe. With a little direction from my mother and I, as to where various kitchen tools were located, and how to use the stove, dinner arrived, and it was good. It was strange, but good and I enjoyed it all the more because he had made it for me.

Over the years he would make me Sloppy Joe’s whenever we got a hankering for them, and they always bring me back to that moment in our history together. To those first blooming buds of love and romance. Since going vegan I have found many delicious recipes for Sloppy Joe’s and though I’m the one to make them now, rather then him, they are still delicious and still bring back those sentimental moments.

Sloppy Joe Casserole however is another beast entirely. I had never even heard of it until after we were married. Like the beef stroganoff I posted about yesterday, this is a dish my husband recalls fondly from his childhood, and again it’s a dish I was exposed to frequently after marriage. Though I didn’t hate it as much as beef stroganoff, I didn’t love it as much as a plain ole’ Sloppy Joe either. I guess, if I’m being honest here I just never really got the point of it. Maybe I’m just not a casserole person - no scratch that, I know I’m not a casserole person - but this dish just never appealed to me the way it did my husband. I guess it didn’t help either that after eating it I’d always feel heavy, bloated and usually ill, as did my husband more often then not.

However how could I refuse his request to make a vegan version for his birthday? I couldn’t, and it just so happens that the day I made it, I was kind of in the mood for something really, really bad. I was really in the mood for some carbs and oozy gooey cheesy goodness, so it worked out, and much to my surprise this vegan version was pretty damn good. It definitely satisfied that craving for gooey badness, and it also came very close to what I remember Sloppy Joe Casserole tasting like. Except it wasn’t greasy which I loved. It had a much cleaner taste then your regular beef casserole, a much smoother natural feel and flavor. The other great thing about this dish is even though it’s definitely a ‘stick to your ribs’ kind of meal, it doesn’t actually bog you down and make you feel bloated. Neither my husband or I felt ill after eating it which is a nice change from how we’d often feel after eating the typical beef version. My husband absolutely loved it and devoured two plates of it, and though I would rather have made a more impressive dinner for his birthday, it is exactly what he wanted. I would be happy to make this again for him upon his request.

Sloppy Joe Casserole

1 Tsp Olive Oil
6 Cloves Garlic minced
1 Large Onion Diced
1 Red Bell Pepper Diced
1 Tube Gimmie Lean Ground Beef Style (Or other faux beef alternative)
1 Faux Beef Bouillon Cube + 1 ½ C Water
1 6 oz can Italian Seasoned tomato paste
1 6 oz can tomato juice
2 C Fresh or Frozen Corn Kernels
2 Tsp Ground Chili Powder
1 Tsp Ground Cumin
1/8 Tsp Cayenne Pepper (more if you like heat)
1 Package Daiya Cheddar Cheese (Or other non-dairy Cheese)
10oz Rotini Pasta
Salt and Pepper to taste

- Pre-heat your oven to 350'F

- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, and set aside.

- Meanwhile heat oil in large pan, add garlic onion and bell pepper and saute for 5-6 minutes over medium heat. Add in Gimmie Lean Ground Beef, and use your spatula to break it up into ground beef sized chunks. Continue to Saute over medium heat for another 5-8 minutes until Gimmie Lean is nicely browned.

- Meanwhile dissolve your faux beef bouillon cube in water and set aside.

- Add Chili powder, cumin and cayenne to the Gimmie Lean mixture. Stir to combine. Add in tomato paste, tomato juice and faux beef bouillon mixture. Stir to combine and bring to a boil.

- Add in corn kernels, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat and let simmer for 10 minutes.

- Add in cooked pasta and stir gently until well combines and all pasta is covered with sauce. Pour into a medium sized casserole dish and spread the Daiya Cheese over top.

- Place in the oven and bake at 350 for roughly 20 minutes until daiya is nicely melted. Serve and enjoy!

*** Note - Gluten-Free if made with Gluten-Free non-dairy cheese, faux beef, and noodles. I actually used Brown Rice Rotini, and Daiya is naturally GF. Can also be soy-free if you use soy-free faux beef. Daiya is also SF***

1 comment:

  1. I love sloppy Joe casserole! =D Man, now I want this again. haha Reading your blog is both good & bad b/c I remember all the good things we've had to eat as vegans but then I also want everything I am reading about. Thanks for making this for me! - M