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Tofu-Turkey Sloppy Joes

(recipe, Tara Mataraza Desmond & Joy Manning)

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Few foods have the power of childhood favorites. Hot dogs, mac and cheese, and sloppy joes all recall a time when we didn’t worry about cholesterol. This part-tofu take on a classic sandwich offers a taste of nostalgia without the guilt. (If tofu really doesn’t appeal to you, it’s just as good made with a pound of ground turkey, but we encourage you to try it. Tofu-hating testers of the recipe were surprised by the great taste.) And if you want to make a vegetarian version, simply use all tofu instead, though you will also need to omit the Worcestershire; its savory kick comes from anchovies. Hops and malt give beer its flavor and lend depth to this recipe, but you may omit it and use the same amount of water instead.


  1. 2 Tbsp. canola oil, divided
  2. 1 small onion, cut into ¼-inch dice (about 1 cup)
  3. 1 small red bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch dice (about ½ cup)
  4. 1 stalk celery, cut into ¼-inch dice (about ¼ cup)
  5. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 8 oz. ground turkey
  7. 8 oz. extra-firm tofu, pressed and crumbled to resemble ground meat
  8. 8 oz. (1 can) tomato sauce
  9. 1 Tbsp. molasses
  10. 2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  11. 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  12. 1 tsp. ground cumin
  13. ½ cup beer
  14. ¼ cup water
  15. 1 Tbsp. malt vinegar
  16. Salt and pepper
  17. 4 soft white hamburger rolls
  18. Butter, for toasted buns (optional)
  19. Grated cheddar cheese, for topping (optional)
  20. Minced onions or scallions, for topping (optional)


  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for about 3 minutes, until translucent and beginning to soften. Add the bell pepper and celery and sauté for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sauté for about 30 seconds, just until fragrant. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the same skillet and return it to the heat. Drop the turkey into the hot pan in small chunks and brown for about 5 minutes, stirring and chopping occasionally. Add the tofu and sauté for 2 minutes more.
  3. While the meat and tofu brown, in a bowl whisk together the tomato sauce, molasses, Worcestershire, mustard, and cumin.
  4. Push the meat and tofu off to one side of the pan and deglaze the bottom by adding the beer, a little at a time, scraping as it bubbles and steams. Stir in the rest of the beer, the onion mixture, tomato-sauce mixture, water, and vinegar. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring once or twice. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
  5. Toast and lightly butter the buns. Add about a cup of filling, topping with grated cheddar and minced onions if you like.