Before you take a look at this recipe, think back to elementary school and lunchtime in the cafeteria. Remember sloppy joe day? I remember how it smelled (not so fantastic) and those soggy “wheat” buns with the runny, ketchup-y, gristly ground mystery meat (yeah, so our school district didn’t have the best lunch program in the early 80s). I can literally see the line of styrofoam trays with the little compartments being filled, assembly-line style, by the cafeteria staff. Lunch cost $.50. Remember those sloppy joes? Well these are nothing like that.
I’ve always had an aversion to sloppy joes—that sad, soggy cafeteria sandwich being my only exposure to this sandwich. We didn’t eat them at home, and I wasn’t about to eat them at school— so I just abstained altogether. You can buy the filling sauce in a can (which I hear is actually pretty tasty, if sloppy joes fall into the “nostalgia” category for you). Please don”t hold it against me, but I”ve never had a Manwich (and the visual I get when I say it out loud isn”t quite as wholesome as the company probably intended). I figured my window of opportunity to try a sloppy joe closed about 7 years ago, when I stopped eating most meat, but then I was introduced to Gardein’s All American Sloppy Joes.
Gardein has a huge line of refrigerated and frozen meatless products, but this meatless sloppy joe mix spoke to me—it called to me. The photo on the front of the box looked too good to be true—all that saucy meatless meat just spilling out of that hamburger bun: I can finally try a sloppy joe. So I did. I finally got to try a sloppy joe. SO GOOD! Since I can’t leave well enough alone, I fancied up the sloppy joe mix and came up with these cute little Gardein All American Sloppy Joe sliders with buttermilk ranch slaw and pickles.