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Is that an oxymoron? Well, maybe it is.

Now don’t get me wrong. But just because sloppy joes are . . . sloppy, that’s not a reason to hate them. Once, when I was a teenager, and staying with my sister who lived in Provo, Utah, the youth group at church went on a rafting trip, and I got to go along, too.

After a long day of rafting on the Green River, we were all sunburned, with chapped lips and sore muscles. The youth leaders had made a huge pot of sloppy joe mix, and let me tell you, I remember thinking that sandwich was the best thing I had eaten in my entire life.

Hopefully, this recipe will taste good whether you’re exhausted with heat stroke or not.

And if you’d like to serve it with that cucumber ribbon salad in the picture, you can find that recipe here.

gourmet sloppy joes

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
teaspoon grated Italian seasoning (like the McCormack grinder in the picture, or just plain Italian seasoning)
1 pound lean ground beef
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 6 ounce can tomato sauce
1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
salt and pepper, to taste
4-6 hamburger buns

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add in onions, and cook until almost tender, add in bell pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes more. Add in Italian seasoning. Add in beef, and cook until browned.

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2. Stir in tomato paste, brown sugar, vinegar, sauce, and sun-dried tomatoes. Let simmer for 2-3 minutes, and season with salt and pepper. Serve on rolls.