I’m not ashamed to admit that one of my favorite activities is wandering aimlessly around Trader Joe’s for unknowingly long stretches of time. Perhaps it’s because TJ’s happens to be my local grocery store, or perhaps I’m just enamored by all their cleverly labeled items that are natural and organic and yet somehow cheap. Or maybe I just love wandering around grocery stores and getting inspired to make shit up. Yesterday the TJ spell was exceptionally strong and I was coerced into visiting someplace I never dare go: the sample counter. Gasp! Normally I just steer clear but the scent wafting over from the skillet was, for some bizarre reason… irresistible… harkening into my childhood… it was… it was… the smell of sloppy joes. Seriously? I’m getting a craving for a sloppy joe? I haven’t had a sloppy joe since I was like 12, but for some reason, that smell just reeled me right in. So, I approached the counter to discover that it was, of course, Trader Joe’s beef-less ground beef being cooked in Trader Joe’s Kansas city barbecue sauce. Now I have to tell you, one of my rules in culinary life is that I never eat anything that is repurposed to try and imitate animal products. If I’m going to be a vegetarian, then I’m going to love vegetables, not try and fill the void meat has left by eating products meant to taste like them. Tofurkey? Please. Besides, do you know the amount of processing that stuff has to go through to taste like and resemble meat? Still, despite my obvious opposition, here I was popping the meatless sample from the way too attractive TJ’s employee. And of course, it’s delicious – like, I wouldn’t have even known it wasn’t real ground beef. I examined the package and because it’s Trader Joe’s the list of ingredients was actually quite passable, so I bought it for $2.99 and the bottle of barbecue and off I went. Now mind you, their sauce is not authentic Sloppy Joe sauce, but for some reason it just hit that button with me. Whatever, spare me your judgement.
So, all I did was brown about 1/3 of the package in a little bit of oil, then once it was nicely colored I poured in about 3-4 tablespoons of the sauce, let it heat up, and that was it. I would have liked to add some fresh tomatoes at the end, but I didn’t have any. However what I did have was some leftover orzo from my Simple Springtime Orzo Salad from last week. I boiled it in salted water, then added a little butter, salt, pepper, and tossed it in with the meatless mix at the end. Rather than completely ruining any nutritional efforts by slapping it on a white processed bun, I instead served it over a bed of shredded cabbage. I had dinner in less than 5 minutes (not including the orzo cooking time) for less than $5. And I satisfied my craving (however ridiculous) in a moderately healthy way. Starving artist win!
Tomorrow I’m going to figure out another way to use the meatless meat. It may or may not involve barbecue sauce… we’ll see.
Any one get any inexplicable cravings this week?