Move over Sloppy Joe…Holly’s Lentil Sloppy Joe is the next big thing in comfort food!

In March we celebrated Nutrition Month 2017 with a vegetarian recipe contest. 72 delicious and healthy recipes were shared by UBC students, staff and community members.

Dietetics student Holly Heximer’s Lentil Sloppy Joe recipe was the one that won our hearts over. We chose this recipe because we thought it was a fun twist on a classic that would resonate with students and fit perfectly into our dining hall menu. This dish might even encourage regular meat eaters to choose a vegetarian meal more often.

Holly and two friends got to work with UBC Executive Chef David Speight to perfect the recipe, which will be featured at Vegetarian Kitchen in Open Kitchen this summer and other UBC Food Services locations in September. Other recipes submitted to the contest may be used too; we’ll reach out if they are! Stay tuned for when and where they will be available.

Q&A with Holly Heximer:

Tell us about yourself!
I am entering my fifth year of the UBC Dietetics program and will be completing my internship in the fall. I have lived in residence for three years and been a residence advisor in Marine Drive, Walter Gage and Ponderosa Commons, and I understand the struggles of cooking on a student budget. I love all things food including reading cookbooks and experimenting with recipes.

Why did you chose the recipe?
I was inspired to experiment with this recipe last summer after making a vegan pulled pork jackfruit dish for some friends. That recipe was great but jackfruit can be expensive and hard to find. Lentils are much cheaper and easier to find. I chose this recipe because it is easy, delicious and is inexpensive. This recipe also makes for great leftovers – I often will eat it the next day with rice in my lunch.

What’s healthy about it?
Lentils are one of the cheapest protein sources, high in fibre and very easy to cook with. Unlike beans you do not need to soak dried lentils so they cook a lot faster and are my preferred plant source of protein. By serving this on a whole wheat bun it increases your fibre intake and adding a coleslaw on the side and topping with arugula increases the nutrient content of this dish!

Sloppy Holly Recipe

Yield: 2 servings

1 can (540mL) green lentils OR 1 cup cooked dried green lentils
1 tbsp cooking oil
1 shallot, chopped
¼ white onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp cayenne (more if you like it spicy!)
¼ cup BBQ sauce
¼ cup water
1 cup arugula
1 lime (juiced)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 whole wheat burger buns


  1. Drain and rinse canned lentils or cook dried lentils by bringing the lentils and 2½ cups of water to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low and cover until lentils are tender. Drain any excess water.
  2. Place a large pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp cooking oil. Sauté white onion, garlic and shallots until translucent.
  3. Add the tomato paste and spices and sauté.
  4. Add the lentils, BBQ sauce and ¼ cup warm water to the pan and cook for about 5 minutes until it has thickened. Stir frequently and remove from heat when it reaches desired thickness.
  5. Cut whole wheat buns in half and divide the lentil mixture between them.
  6. Put arugula in mixing bowl, add olive oil and lime juice and gently toss. Place arugula on top of lentil mixture and serve!

Pro Tip:
Serve this with a cabbage coleslaw on the side!

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