Hey! I’m back from a great little trip to DC with Jess and Heather. Big thank you to everyone that came out to both of our events. I had some incredible conversations and lots of good things to eat in my short time there. Despite some nervousness about the trip, I let myself go into the experience freely, and was met with a lot of warmth and positivity. So excited for more book fun times in LA next month!
I came back from that tiny trip fully ready to embrace some SUMMER, but was met with rain and sweatshirt weather essentially. The sun has peeked out a few times since though, and I’m planting all of my flowers/porch stuff this week, so if that doesn’t call some forever summer vibes into existence, I don’t know what else I can do.
I’m making some summery food to put my message out to the universe, too. Our recipe today is so nostalgic! It’s a plant-based riff on sloppy joes with lots of beans, vegetables, and finely chopped walnuts in place of the ground meat. It’s very pantry-friendly, which is always great for easygoing warm days. It comes from my friend Shelly’s new book that comes out next month. I’m 95% sure you already know her from the Vegetarian Ventures blog. Luckily, I get to share a little preview of this very cool book here with you all.
Vegetarian Heartland is as much about recipes as it is about working towards traditions and the comforting experiences that bring us together. The seasonal chapters give way to specific occasions and delicious recipes to suit holiday feasts, summer berry picking jaunts, snow days, autumnal camping, and farmer’s market haul days. I found myself feeling sentimental just glancing at it on the first pass. It’s photographed with so much warmth, and I think that stems from Shelly’s firm acknowledgement that the Midwest, and all of the goodness that it brings into her life creatively, is the place for her.
There’s a lot of coziness in these pages, but plenty of everyday goodness too. Shelly will also teach you how to build a campfire AND introduce you to a particular variety of Midwestern-grown persimmon. It’s about good food and making a beautiful life. More info about the book and a special pre-order bonus here!
VEGAN SLOPPY JANES RECIPE
Recipe from Vegetarian Heartland: Recipes for Life’s Adventures ©Shelly Westerhausen, 2017. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Chronicle Books. Available for pre-order here.
NOTES (from Shelly): Although this isn’t the best fare if you are traveling far, it’s perfect for afternoon picnics in the backyard or on the porch. Sloppy Joes have a reputation for being “camp grub,” and these Sloppy Janes are the vegan version of the classic. Although we can’t all go back to camp (I wish!), we can re-create the experience through food in our own kitchens. The taste of these will take you back to the first day of camp, when you had butterflies in your stomach. Note from Laura: I included Shelly’s sweet pickle method here, but was lazy and just used Bubbie’s bread and butter slices for mine!
2 cinnamon sticks
8 burger buns or 12 slider bunsTo make the pickles: Drain the pickles and cut into bite-size chunks. Place pickles back into the jar, cover with water, and soak for 24 hours. Drain and place into a large jar.
In a medium bowl or pitcher, combine the sugar and 1 cup [240 ml] of water. Stir until dissolved. Pour the mixture over cut-up pickles, tuck in the cinnamon sticks, and refrigerate for at least 48 hours and up to 6 months before serving. Store, refrigerated, in an airtight container or jar.
In a 12-in [30.5-cm] skillet over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion, celery, and carrots and sauté until very soft, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cumin and sauté for 30 seconds more. Add the oregano, vegetable stock, red pepper flakes, tamari, tomato paste, vinegar, honey, walnuts, pinto beans, and kidney beans and simmer until the sauce is thick and fragrant, 12 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Divide the vegan sloppy janes mixture among the buns and top with 2 or 3 pickle slices. Serve immediately.