Lentil BBQ for 60 people

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This came from a recipe for “vegan pulled pork.”  Now, I enjoy lots of vegan meat substitutes, but I prefer food that isn’t pretending to be other food.  So, while you can imagine that this is supposed to resemble pulled pork, really it’s just a delicious lentil BBQ dish that we’ll put on buns.  Like you would do with pulled pork.  But vegan.

Estimated cost: $40

Time required: 45-60 min; can be cooked ahead of time and frozen, or could be cooked up to 3 days ahead of time.


  • 3-5 gallon pot (there was a comfortable amount of room for stirring in our 5-gallon pot; a 3-gallon pot would be close to overflowing).
  • food processor or blender are nice but not necessary (you can use a cheese grater + potato masher + lots of elbow grease)


  • 10 cups (4.25 pounds) dry green or brown lentils*
  • 2-3 gallons water
  • 4 onions, minced
  • Enough olive oil to fry onions in (.75-1.25 cups)
  • 4 pounds carrots, shredded/grated
  • 4 garlic cloves (about 1/2 head)
  • 2-3 tablespoons sweet paprika
  • 1-2 tablespoons smoked paprika
  • 1-2 tablespoons salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 8 cups (1/2 gallon) barbecue sauce (choose your favorite, but please make sure it’s vegan & gluten free.  We particularly like hickory-flavored sauces.  Please don’t use 1/2 gallon of A1.)
  • 2-3 teaspoons chili powder if you’re using super mild BBQ sauce
  • up to 2 tablespoons sugar if you find it’s really necessary (most BBQ sauces are sweet enough)

*Lentils = green or brown lentils, please.  Not red or yellow lentils. Not French green (Puy) lentils.  Also, lentils are best when fresher, so if you’ve had a bag of bulk lentils on your shelf for the past 3 years, erm, now may not be the best time to use them.  Go ahead and get yourself a time machine and use them 2.5 years ago, please.


(I’m assuming you only have 1 big pot, so the steps here are for cooking everything in that pot.   If you have 2 pots, then you can cook the onions and lentils at the same time in those 2 pots.)

  1. Wash lentils in a big pot with cold water.  Discard any that float.  If you’re being picky, at this point you would drain the water you used to wash the lentils in.  (You can also just boil them in the same water if you want.)
  2. Bring lentils to a boil in a bunch of gallons of water.  Don’t add any salt or acids, or the lentils will become tough.
  3. Reduce heat to a simmer, then cook uncovered for 20-30 min or until tender.  Don’t go off and watch Star Trek and let your lentils boil dry, or you’ll spend the next half hour scrubbing blackened lentils off the bottom of your nice pot.  Trust me.
  4. Drain the lentils through a colander.  There should be some excess liquid that drains out.  (If there’s only a little liquid at the bottom of the pot and you’re balking at having to dump this huge, steaming pile of lentils into your tiny colander, don’t worry about it.  A little extra water will be fine; it’ll cook off later.)  Set the lentils aside.
  5. Meanwhile, mince the onion and grate/shred the carrots (a food processor will be your best friend here).
  6. In your big pot (or in a 2nd big pot if you have another one), saute the onions over medium heat for 10 minutes, or until caramelized.
  7. Add the cooked lentils, carrots, and barbecue sauce to the cooking onions.  Add the minimal amount of spices (e.g., recipe calls for 1-2 tablespoons of black pepper: start with 1 tablespoon now).  Keep cooking for 10-15 minutes.
  8. Taste and adjust spices if necessary.  Possibly add sugar at this stage (but really you shouldn’t need any sugar unless you have a ridiculously non-sweet BBQ sauce).
  9. If you feel like it, you can put up to 1/2 the mixture into a blender or food processor at this point and blend/mash it into a more cohesive mixture.  I happen to like eating individual lentils, so I usually skip this step.
  10. The original recipe says that this lentil mixture is best served fresh, but will keep for up to 3 days refrigerated.  If you’re going to make it more than 3 days ahead of time, you can freeze it, just please don’t bring it in a gigantic frozen block to the wedding.

Please bring the barbecue lentil mixture in the big pot you cooked it in and bring a ladle/big spoon if you have one (or let us know if you don’t).  We’ll re-heat it over a hotplate, so it needs to be brought to the wedding in a pot that can sit on the hotplate. We’ll serve it over ciabatta rolls.

NOTE that we’ve categorized this recipe as “gluten free.”  If you have a truly gluten-free kitchen (e.g., if you’re used to cooking for people with celiac disease), please let us know; otherwise, we’ll end up calling this “gluten almost-free” because of the risk of gluten contamination in most home kitchens.

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Recipe from: http://minimalistbaker.com/best-vegan-pulled-pork-sandwich/


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