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Untidy Josephs - Instant Pot-Vegan Style

Before I turned to a plant-based diet, I had a few quick and easy (and not-so-healthy) options that I would sometimes throw together for dinner on a hurried evening. One of those options was good-old, canned "Manwich" sauce with some ground beef to make sloppy joes. The kids loved them, and I'll admit that Art and I did too.

Looking ahead as a 'born-again eater,' I really wanted to have a super easy and quick recipe that would be reminiscent of those yummy "Untidy Josephs" that the whole family used to enjoy. Behold, Instant-Pot Lentils! Get ready to dig into a messy vegan sandwich, dripping with deliciousness and healthful, savory ingredients! You'll need an Instant Pot for the super-quick version. If you don't have one, cook up some lentils and then simmer them in a deep pot with the rest of the ingredients listed until you have your "Sloppy Joe" consistency.

This recipe starts with sautéing some onion, garlic and diced up carrots; then stirring in savory ingredients like molasses, tomato sauce, apple cider vinegar and plenty of seasonings to round out your flavorful filling. Serve this vegan twist on the old-fashioned sloppy Joe with some homemade vegan coleslaw and pickles for a perfect balance of flavors and textures. Whether you're vegan or not, this nutrient-dense meal is sure to satisfy anyone's craving for a hot, comforting sandwich!


  • 1 Tbsp avocado or canola oil

  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped

  • 1 cup dried brown lentils (picked, soaked for 1 hour, rinsed & drained)

  • 2 cups vegetable broth or stock

  • 1 - 8 oz can tomato sauce

  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste

  • 1 Tbsp molasses

  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce

  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tsp chili powder

  • 1 tsp salt

  • 1 tsp cumin

  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke

  • 1/2 tsp brown sugar

  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika

  • vegan-friendly hamburger buns


  1. Turn on the sauté setting on your Instant Pot.

  2. Add the oil, onion, garlic and carrot. Toss with a spatula to coat and sauté uncovered for about 5 minutes. Stir frequently to prevent sticking.

  3. Turn off the sauté setting, and add all remaining ingredients (except buns). Stir ingredients to mix well.

  4. Seal the Instant Pot lid, and cook on "Custom" (high pressure) for 12 minutes.

  5. When Instant Pot beeps, leave lid in place and allow a Natural Release of steam for 15 minutes.

  6. Open the lid and stir. Serve your Untidy Josephs on warmed buns with pickles and vegan coleslaw or vegan potato salad on the side.




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