There are some summer days when it’s just too hot to stand over the stove and prepare a nutritious meal. It’s even too hot to think about firing up the grill and cooking in the shade. It’s days like these that bring a single mom’s favorite childhood meals to mind, especially those summer evenings when we ate our dinner on a blanket under the shade tree in the back yard.
Sloppy Joes have been a favorite with kids for generations. The short prep time make them a favorite with moms, too. An added benefit is that they can be made ahead and be frozen for later use without losing any flavor. They can also be prepared early in the day and held until the evening meal in the crock pot. Sloppy Joes are also easily reheated in the microwave.
The word sloppy is in the name of this tasty treat for a reason. Letting the kids enjoy them as a dinner picnic outside will save mom from having to clean the floor of the sloppiness after the meal. It won’t, however, help with getting stains out of the clothes. Nothing is perfect, after all.
Some slight changes to the traditional Sloppy Joe recipe will make it an even healthier all-in-one meal for the family. Instead of ground beef, use ground turkey and replace the regular hamburger buns with those made of whole wheat.
This recipe will serve four, but can easily be doubled so that the leftovers can be frozen for the next hot day when mom can’t bear the thought of turning on the stove.
Turkey Sloppy Joes
- 3 tsp olive oil
- 1/2 med yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
- 1 lb 99% lean ground turkey
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 3 tsp brown sugar (optional)
- 2/3 cups strained tomatoes
- dash of nutmeg
- 4 large whole wheat hamburger buns
- Heat the olive oil in large sautée pan over low heat.
- Add the onion, pepper, garlic, and celery.
- Cover and cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they are soft and start to become translucent. This usually takes about 7 minutes.
- Remove the vegetables and bring the heat to medium high. Add the ground turkey to the pan and cook, stirring when needed, for about 7 minutes, or until it is almost cooked through.
- Add the previously cooked vegetables, stirring them into the turkey.
- Add the tomato paste, vinegar and sugar to the mixture and cook, stirring occasionally for about 4 minutes.
- Add tomatoes, nutmeg, salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.
- Lower heat and simmer until thick.
If tomatoes are in season, use fresh ones instead of the canned. Nothing is as good as fresh when it’s available.
Feel free to substitute red or yellow pepper if they are less expensive than the green bell peppers or if the kids simply favor one over the other. If the peppers are on sale, buy an extra one and cut it into strips and serve along side the sandwich.