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Sloppy Joe Pitas

Cook Time:
20 mins
Prep Time:
15 mins

Chef notes

Growing up, I was extremely neutral about sloppy Joes, but I was inspired to revisit the concept after watching "It Takes Two" for the hundredth time, in which the rich Olsen twin takes her first bite of one at summer camp and loses her dang mind. Like most things that will allow it, I gave it the shakshuka treatment. That is, I projected the flavors of my go-to shakshuka onto this format, and, well, a star was born. She will not answer to Slop-Shuka, and her artist rider consists of funky preserved lemon, salty feta, sour pickles, and the much less sloppy vessel of a thick, fluffy pita pocket.

Technique tip: Homemade pita or freshly made pita from a local bakery are ideal, but store bought will suffice if needed!

Swap option: You can use ground beef, chicken or meatless meat instead of ground turkey! If you can't find preserved lemon, sub the zest and juice of half a lemon.


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
  • kosher salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons harissa paste or dried harissa
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 pounds ground turkey, 93% lean
  • 1 (14-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon rinsed and finely chopped preserved lemon rind
  • 8 thick pita pockets
  • sliced pickles, crumbled feta, chopped flat-leaf parsley and lemon wedges, to serve


Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, jalapeño and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring, until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin and paprika, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, another minute. Add the harissa and tomato paste and cook for another minute. Add the turkey and season with 1½ teaspoons kosher salt. Cook, breaking up with a wooden spoon or spatula, until browned all the way through. Stir in the tomatoes and brown sugar and simmer, covered, over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the flavors to meld. Stir in the vinegar and preserved lemon. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired.

To serve, stack the pitas, wrap in foil and heat in a warm oven for a few minutes. Cut the tops off and fill with the turkey mixture. Top with pickles, feta and parsley, and serve with lemon wedges.

From Home is Where the Eggs Are by Molly Yeh. Copyright © 2022 by Molly Rebecca Yeh. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.