This Vegan Sloppy Joe Dish Makes a Healthy Comfort Food

This recipe from Lauren Toyota's new cookbook Hot For Food is a vegan twist on the American classic.

Sure, you can make this sloppy joe filling and eat it on a soft kaiser, but that’s so basic. I want to give you a healthier option so you can eat even more sloppy joe stuff. You can round out these zucchini boats with garlic bread or rice on the side and serve as a meal. Or, if you’re too lazy to prep the zucchini altogether, just pour the sloppy joe mixture into an oven-safe dish, top with the vegan cheese shreds, and bake for 20 minutes until melty! Serve with slices of garlic toast for dipping for a perfect last-minute party appie.

(Related: In Praise of Prepackaged Vegan Products)

Sloppy Joe Zucchini Boats

Makes 8 boats


  • 4 large zucchini
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup finely chopped white or yellow onion (about 1 onion)
  • 1 cup finely diced green bell pepper (about 1 pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar or light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons gluten-free tamari or low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic (about 2 large cloves)
  • 2 teaspoons vegan beef-flavoured bouillon base or 2 cubes
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 package (13.7 oz/390 g) veggie ground round(about 3 cups)
  • 2 cups canned crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
  • ¼ cup vegan Worcestershire
  • 2 cups mixed vegan cheese shreds (1 cup each mozzarella and Cheddar)
  • 3 tablespoons Italian-style bread crumbs


  1. Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Use a paring knife to score around the inside edge about ¼ inch from the sides, being careful not to cut through the zucchini. Use a  spoon to carefully scoop out the flesh. Save the zucchini flesh for another use.
  2. Take 1 tablespoon of the oil and brush both sides of the zucchini boats with a light layer. Arrange the zucchini halves side by side on a large baking sheet with the hollowed parts facing up.
  3. In a large nonstick pan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Add the onion and green pepper, and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the coconut sugar, tamari, garlic, bouillon base, chili powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, sea salt, and black pepper, and cook for another 2 minutes. Add the ground round, crushed tomatoes, and Worcestershire, stir to combine, and cook for another 5 to 6 minutes. Cover the pan, lower the heat to medium-low, and cook for 20 minutes, until reduced, thick, and darker brown.
  4. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
  5. Spoon the sloppy joe mixture generously into the zucchini boats, piling the mixture above the edges. Top with the vegan cheese shreds and sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly on top of each. Bake for 35 minutes, until the zucchini is tender and the cheese is melted. Broil for 3 to 5 minutes to crisp up the top, if necessary.

Excerpted from Hot for Food All Day by Lauren Toyota. Copyright © 2021 by Lauren Toyota. Published by Penguin Canada, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited. Reproduced by arrangement with the Publisher. All rights reserved.

Next, try Lauren Toyota’s peanut butter and jam oat bars

Originally Published in Best Health Canada