What’s the take-away message from this BBQ Lentil Meatball Sandwich with Sweet Miso Coleslaw? Who says vegan can’t have it all! It’s either that or the longer the recipe title, the better the meal. I think I’ll go with the first one.
I get a lot of questions about veganism. The most popular question of course is, “Where do you get your protein?” It really is a ridiculous question when you think about it. Herbivores are some of the biggest mammals on the planet. Think about your average cow. It will go from weighing (on average) 40 pounds at birth to nearly 1,500 pounds. They’re not eating sausage for breakfast or steak for dinner. (That would be kind of disgusting anyway.) Where do they get their protein? From plants.
But recently I received a question that really made me think. It went something like this, “Why do vegans and vegetarians make food that resembles the Standard American Diet.” I think the point the questioner was trying to make was that maybe vegans are bored with nuts and twigs and therefore trying to recreate the pitiful meals of their childhood. I don’t happen to eat a lot of twigs, but I’m sure if I did, I could find a way to make them tasty. Chocolate Covered Twigs, anyone? (Hmm, I don’t think that will go into my “future post” bin.) But I did grow up eating certain foods – macaroni and cheese, egg salad sandwiches, cake, cheesecake – that I crave from time to time. Creating vegan versions of these dishes allows me to have my vegan coconut cake and eat it too! And because vegans don’t use meat, eggs, dairy or cheese, the vegan version ends up a little healthier than the kind I grew up eating.
Of course, anything can be healthier than the food I grew up eating. I used to require two packets of “cheese” sauce to season my macaroni and cheese. I’m sure that must have driven my mother crazy. At least until we started buying the big rectangle cube of processed, orange goo they called American cheese. I thought I was really something adding that to my mac & cheese.
We all have our creature comforts and creating vegan versions of some of these is a favorite past-time of mine. I think it’s because I’m passionate about letting people know you can eat vegan food and still really enjoy every last bite of your meal. Today’s recipe would fall in the “savoring every bite” category. BBQ Lentil Meatball Sandwich with Sweet Miso Coleslaw. Need I really say more?
Ok. I will. I will say more. In fact, I will say 5 things more.
5 Great Things about this BBQ Lentil Meatball Sandwich
- Freeze Tag. This batch of Lentil Meatballs should make more than enough for your meatball sandwiches. You can store the rest of them in the freezer (in a freezer-safe container/bag) and then when you need a quick mid-week meal, you can warm up a few meatballs to go on top of pasta and red sauce. Voila! Spaghetti and Lentil Meatballs!
- Keep it Cheap. You can buy a bag of lentils at our store for less than a dollar. That’s not too shabby, especially noting that a bag of lentils can stretch a long ways. I don’t mean you should stretch the bag. That would probably tear and you’d have lentils everywhere. I mean, a bag of lentils can make a lot of meals.
- Easy Peasy. Lentils are legumes, but unlike other plants in this family, they don’t require pre-soaking. Most lentils cook up nicely within 15 – 25 minutes. That means you can put on a pot of lentils and let them cook while you’re doing other things, like chopping onions or painting your nails.
- Protein Punch. OK. Back to that question about protein. Here’s where lentils really pack the punch. Lentils have the third highest protein content of plant-based foods. And unlike meat, lentils don’t include any of the things you don’t want – like gross saturated animal fats and cholesterol. No, the lentil is only giving you good things for your body like fiber, folate, Vitamin B1, and iron.
- Umami. The Sweet Miso Coleslaw adds some complexity for your taste buds through touching on the fifth flavor, umami. That’s thanks to the miso. I’m addicted to this stuff and use it all the time. It was only recently that I began adding it to my coleslaw, and I’m so glad I did!
BBQ Lentil Meatball Sandwich with Sweet Miso Coleslaw
What You’ll Need:
- Lentil Meatballs
- BBQ Sauce (Use store-bought variety or use the recipe below)
- Sweet Miso Coleslaw
- 4 Buns
Here, I used my recipe for Lentil Burgers, but instead of making them into patties, I simply rolled them into 1 – 1.5″ balls. I set these on a tray and placed them in the freezer to firm up a bit. Then I transferred them to a freezer bag and returned them to the freezer for storage. You can (obviously) make these ahead of time, or serve them right from the oven (well, after they’ve cooled, of course!). It’s up to you!
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 – 2 teaspoon vegan smoke sauce (optional)
Combine ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until well-combined and then set aside so the flavors can get to know each other a little better.
Sweet Miso Coleslaw
- 3 cups colesaw mix (Dole’s has a great shredded cabbage mixed with slivered carrots that I like)
- 1/2 cup vegan mayo
- 2 tablespoons vinegar (I actually use sweet pickle juice here…a trick my mom taught me)
- 2 tablespoons miso paste (Westbrae makes one of my favorites)
- 2 tablespoons agave nectar
- 1/8 teaspoon celery seed (optional)
- 1/3 teaspoon of turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 tablespoons chia seeds
You may look at this list of ingredients and wonder what I’ve been smoking, but trust me, this makes a delicious coleslaw. Combine everything but the coleslaw mix in a small bowl. Stir until well-combined. Your sauce might look a little runny. That’s ok. The chia seeds will not only add some great Omega-3s, they’ll also thicken the sauce. Let that stand for a bit before adding it to your coleslaw mix. You might want to dip your finger in the sauce to see if it has the right mix of flavors for you. If not, you might want to add a little bit of salt or pepper or whatever coasts your coleslaw.
While you’re waiting, add the coleslaw mix to a medium-sized resealable bowl. Once the sauce has thickened a bit (thank you chia seeds), combine this with the coleslaw mix and stir until all the ingredients are incorporated. Seal the container and place it in the fridge while you’re putting the rest of your sandwiches together.
Assemble Your Sandwiches
First, it’s nice if you can lightly toast your buns. It gives them a nice toasty taste…and a firmer platform for the lentil meatballs.
While the buns are toasting, place however many meatballs you’ll need for your sandwiches (I use about 5 per sandwich) in a bowl and pour over them just enough BBQ sauce to thoroughly cover each meatball. BBQ sauce is kind of like sunscreen – you want to apply liberally! Warm the BBQ-drenched meatballs in the microwave (or on the stove-top if you prefer). Place 5 or so meatballs on the bottom half of each bun. Top with the Sweet Miso Coleslaw and serve.
I warn you, these can be messy sandwiches to eat. But don’t you think those are usually the best? That’s really a rhetorical question. You don’t have to answer it. You also won’t have to answer the question about where you’ll be getting your protein. I think you know!