When I was a kid, I only went to traditional summer camp once. The summer camps available in my area weren’t amazing, and we didn’t learn new things or have cool activities like the ones in movies (did anyone else watch The Parent Trap and think camp was way cooler than it actually was?) so one summer was really all I needed.

(Of course, I did go to orchestra camp a couple times as a teen. Yup, take your best shot).

Anyway, one thing I remember about camp was that the food was different than I expected. I thought it would be hot dogs, crusty mac and cheese and, of course, sloppy Joes! That was what I was most looking forward to since I, an apparently sad and disadvantaged child had never had a sloppy Joe before.

Turns out the sloppy Joe train kind of sails the older you get, so I never did get to try that sloppy Joe. I’ve had a few compulsions to make a vegan version, like maybe one using my mushroom and tempeh mince. But my desire for a sloppy Joe analogue also happened to coincide with my discovery of how much I love Harissa.

This dish is, I suppose, closer to tofu scramble than a sloppy Joe, but the point is, it has all the makings of fantastic comfort food: satisfying, satiating, falling out of the bun occasionally, covered in just the right amount of sauce.

Are you weary of the idea of Harissa? Don’t worry, it’s not actually that spicy. You can make your own or buy some in stores for a fairly inexpensive price point, but either way, Harissa is more savoury and flavour-packed than pure spice. It goes oddly well with a standard BBQ sauce, which makes this dish a good combination of familiar and adventurous tastes.

I’ve also included a recipe for Jar’s standard coleslaw, which he was finally kind enough to write down so you can have the perfect sandwich-topper

Harissa BBQ sloppy Josephines, serves four

Information

  • Vegan
  • Gluten-free
    • Grain-free
  • Nut-free
  • Sugar-free option*
  • Prep time: 5 minutes
  • Cook time: 25 minutes

* I use a store-bought sugar-free BBQ sauce sweetened with xylitol. If artificial sweeteners aren’t for you, you can go for one sweetened with maple syrup or cane sugar — whatever you prefer (just watch out for honey). You can also make your own!

Ingredients:

Harissa BBQ tofu

  • One block extra-firm tofu, pressed
  • 1/3 cup BBQ sauce
  • 2 tbsp Harissa paste
  • 1/4 white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Easy super slaw

  • 2 cups shredded purple cabbage (about 1/3 a head)
  • 1/2 white or yellow onion, finely chopped
  • One small carrot, shredded
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Once the tofu is pressed, break it into small, rough pieces with a fork. Toss in a mixing bowl with the BBQ sauce and Harissa paste.
  3. Coat the bottom of a loaf pan with the olive oil and then spread the onions across the bottom. Add the tofu on top.
  4. Bake at 425 for 25 to 30 minutes or until the tofu is browned and just slightly crispy on the outside. You may want to stir at 15 minutes.
  5. While the tofu is baking, make the slaw by combining all the shredded vegetables, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
  6. Assemble with whatever toppings you like. I, of course, like a big, fluffy bun with some pickles and vegan mayo.

What’s your favourite sloppy Joe analogue? Or, unlike me, are you fine never having a sloppy Joe? Either way, you should make this sandwich, which is not quite a sloppy Joe, not quite a tofu sandwich. It also makes a great side for a salad or a big burrito bowl!