Food / Recipes

Sloppy Joes & Spinach Salad (Slightly) Southwest Style

Sloppy Who?

This recipe first appeared on The Evolved Foodie on February 21, 2018.

From what I’ve heard, many of you grew up eating Sloppy Joes on a somewhat regular basis. I, in fact did not. As a kid, I remember being endlessly fascinated by the ad campaign for ManwichA sandwich is a sandwich but a Manwich is a meal” What did it mean? What was I missing out on? It seemed like some great American secret not shared with the rest of us. It seemed like the secret to happiness at the dinner table.

I sometimes muse on the fact that while I was born and raised in Brooklyn, as the child of Eastern European immigrants I didn’t quite grow up with the traditional cuisine. In fact, despite having parents fluent in several languages including perfect English, until I was about 16, I didn’t know the English word for hamburger (we called– and still call– our variation by the Hungarian word fasirt which is pronounced fah-sheert). Meanwhile, the neighborhood I grew up in was primarily Italian American, so to me, the food eaten by my friends and neighbors seemed exotic and wholly interesting. Also, I couldn’t get over my fascination with Manwich.

A Melange of Styles:

When I cook these days, I not only take into account my own restrictions and limitations (and oy, there are many) but also my roots and curiosity and interest in the world. So I might include a trendy spice or ingredient, but more often than not it’s me trying to create something appealing and tasty that on some level might be something everyone else is eating. This is not that dish. This is just something that I came up with for dinner one night that was so good, I kept trying to make it prettier and easier to pull together. It’s definitely made up of taste combinations I didn’t grow up with, but I kind of love it. I hope you do too.

Also, this dish can be vegan or vegetarian if you so choose- it really depends on the ingredients of your choice anything from ground beef to meat, cheese and sour cream substitutes. For that reason, I named these Sloppy Jones, since they’re not quite Sloppy Joes!


  • 12 ounces crumbled beef substitute (I made this recipe using my own crumbles made out of tofu, and also Lightlife Smart Crumbles or similar. Either works just fine!)
  • 3 Tbsp. shredded cheddar cheese or vegan cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. double tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp. water, more water as needed
  • 1 red onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 cups baby spinach leaves
  • Sour cream, sliced avocado and salsa


  • Chop up onions leaving pieces uneven sizes and on the chunky side and fry in a large frying pan until translucent and just turning brown. Add the minced garlic.
  • Add the crumbles to the frying pan in a flat layer.
  • Using a spatula, gently move the crumbles around the pan and allow to brown, and then stir so that all of it cooks as evenly as possible.
  • Add one tablespoon of water to the tomato paste to dilute it slightly and pour over the crumbles mixture. Add more water depending on the texture you prefer – more water for soupier, less water for more individual crumbles.
  • Add spices using a heavier hand if you like things spicy, and make sure that the paste and spices are blended evenly.
  • After crumbles mixture and tomato paste has solidified slightly, add the cheddar cheese or cheese substitute and allow to melt into mixture.
  • Line small bowls with spinach leaves sliced avocado and spoon a scoop or two of crumbles mixture on top. Top with sour cream and salsa.


You can also top with freeze-dried corn kernels (which I buy at for a little extra crunch, color and southwest flair. Meanwhile, as mentioned – this can be vegan- use crumbles, cheese and sour cream substitute or not. It’s totally up to you!

Till we beet again,


Did you make this recipe? Hashtag it #EvolvedFoodie and share on social media or below if you’re so inclined. I love to see your delicious dishes!

Want to talk about Sloppy Joes, fake-o beef or anything else food related? Drop me a line.