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Sloppy Giuseppes

When I was a kid, it was just as likely that my mom would make me a spicy Italian sausage sandwich for lunch as it was that she’d make a PB & J.  Sometimes she’d make sausage with onions and bell peppers.  But my favorite was when she simmered crumbled sausage and mushrooms in a rich tomato sauce.  Mom would spoon this spicy mixture onto crusty Italian rolls. I came to realize this was sort of an Italian version of “Sloppy Joes.” 
I developed a vegan version of this childhood favorite and the recipe is in TheVegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook.  I call the sandwiches “Sloppy Giuseppes” because they’re like Italian Sloppy Joes. 
Hard to believe The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook is ten years old this year.  It remains a personal favorite and paging through the sandwich chapter, I remember some of the reasons why that’s so.  To list a few:
·       Spicy Tofu Po’Boys
·       Seitan “Cheesesteaks
·      Tempeh Reuben
·       Chicken-Out Salad
·       Tofu Egg Salad
·       Nothin’s Fishy Tuna Salad
·       Avocado Salad Wrap with Salsa
·       Hungry for Hummus Pita
·       Cajun Bean Burgers
·       Amazing Grain Burgers
·       Cardamom-Spiced Lentil-Potato Wraps
And, of course, Sloppy Giuseppes.  Yes, please.
My original recipe for Sloppy Giuseppes called for chopped veggie burgers or vegetarian burger crumbles and bottled marinara sauce.  I’ve adapted it by adding other options including TVP and chopped vegan sausage links. I’ve also increased the amount of spice to a degree that would make my mother proud (but you can cut way back if you’re making this for kids that don’t share my childhood fondness for heat.)
Try this quick and easy recipe.  Served with a salad, it makes a hearty meal for lunch or dinner.
Sloppy Giuseppes
Adapted from The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook by Robin Robertson © 2002.
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
3 frozen vegan burgers, thawed and chopped; or 8 ounces vegan burger crumbles; or 1 1/2 cups reconstituted TVP; or 3 to 4 vegan Italian sausage links, purchased or homemade; or 1 1/2 cups chopped seitan or tempeh
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seed
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups bottled marinara sauce
4 Italian sandwich rolls, split and toasted
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the veggie burger, fennel, red pepper flakes, cayenne, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the tomato sauce and simmer for 10 minutes to heat through and blend flavors.  Spoon the mixture on rolls and serve.