Food Fun – Pita Pocket Joes

I love food, and part of my plant-based cooking excursions have been to incorporate as many healthy habits, as well as recipes, into our routine. It’s been scary fun *interesting* testing out various internet recipe finds on my family. My husband grew up eating meat and typical American fare, so finding recipes that 1. don’t scare him, and 2. he likes and 3. pulls from flavor profiles he is familiar with is always my quest.

When we were first married, I grabbed the can of Manwich to throw on some ground beef and sling onto some buns. Eric loved them. I did, too, but it wasn’t very healthy and I knew there had to be a way to get that same flavor without it being from a can and loaded with high fructose corn syrup and other crap I didn’t want in our diet. Shortly after, I found a scratch recipe for sloppy joes that we both liked and was in our regular rotation. I pulled my old recipe book today to get inspired to come up with something new, as well as something I could modify into a plant-based option. Vegan Sloppy Joes for the win!

Diced onion, fresh green peppers and garlic kick it off nicely. Bringing in bold flavors with vegan Worcestershire, mustard and cumin round out the yummy richness. In place of the meat? You could use many things. I have used bulgar wheat in the past which has a similar look and texture to fine ground meat. Tofu crumbled, air fried and then incorporated into the sauce would also work fabulously! Since we had tofu tacos last night, I used red beans and barley.

I served it up with a side of coleslaw (plant-based, of course) and dinner was served! Sounds weird, but it was quite good and filling!

RECIPE:

  • Whole Wheat pita pockets
  • 4-6 leaves of lettuce or other handfuls of greens
  • Red kidney beans, 2 cans, or 2 cups cooked from scratch
  • 1 cup barley, cooked
  • 1 diced green pepper
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbs garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbs BBQ sauce (sugar free if possible)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
    • If you like it spicy: add pinch of pepper flake and/or dash or two of hot sauce
    • Cook barley according to package directions, set aside. Cook dried beans in instant pot, or drain and rinse if using cans. 
    • Sauté onion and green pepper in large skillet. Add garlic and cook over medium heat until soft and fragrant. Add dashes of water to prevent sticking. Add all other ingredients and stir until combined and saucy. I prefer adding all spices/ketchup/Worcestershire/brown sugar before adding beans and barley.
    • Once sauce has come together and sugar has dissolved, add in beans and barley to coat with sauce. Adjust spices to taste. 
    • Stuff leaf lettuce bean/barley/sauce into pita pockets. Serve immediately! 

Chickpeas could be used or canned jackfruit would make great mock pulled-pork type of sandwich!

Daughter liked it, and even liked the coleslaw – which is a win in my book. Beans aren’t Eric’s favorite, but to be fair, he liked the flavor.

Guess we’ll have to try jack fruit next!

What do you think?

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