Cuban Picadillo Stew
This classic Cuban stew is incredibly comforting, especially served over a bowl of warm rice. For a vegetarian version, use lentils instead of the classic ground beef. Raisins are a traditional addition, but feel free to skip them if you’re not a fan of the savory-sweet flavor combination.
Smarts: Make a double batch of both the stew and the rice tonight to use later this week.
- Rice, uncooked white or brown - 2 cups
- Onions, medium - 1 , diced
- Bell peppers, green - 1 , diced
- Bell peppers, red - 1 , diced
- Zucchini - 1 lb , cubed
- Garlic - 4 cloves , chopped
- Olives, green - 1 cup , sliced or chopped (look for pre-sliced to save time)
- Oil, olive - 2 Tbsp
- Cumin, ground - 1 Tbsp
- Paprika, smoked - 1 Tbsp
- Salt - 1 tsp
- Red pepper flakes - 1/2 tsp
- Lentils, cooked - 4 cups (use pre-cooked lentils or if cooking from dried, use half the amount of dried and prepare according to package directions)
- Stock, any type - 1 cup
- Tomato paste - 2 Tbsp
- Tomatoes, crushed (15 oz / 397 g) - 1 can
- Vinegar, red wine - 2 Tbsp
- Raisins (opt) - 1/3 cup
- Cilantro leaves (opt) - 2 Tbsp
Make rice - (This makes enough for 2 nights.) For white rice, rinse until clear. Fill a saucepan or Dutch oven (or rice cooker) with rice, water (use 2:1 ratio for water to rice), and some salt. Cover with lid and bring to a boil. Once water boils, stir, lower heat to a low-medium, and cover. Check white rice after ~20 min; brown at ~45 min. Rice is done when it's absorbed all the water. If it's not done, leave the cover on until all water has been absorbed. Take cover off to release steam and fluff with a wooden spoon after 5 minutes. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
Olives - Drain well. If the olives are not sliced, you can roughly chop or slice them just so that you get more bite-sized pieces throughout the stew.
Heat a Dutch oven with oil over medium heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, and garlic. Cook everything together until the onions and peppers are starting to soften, 6 to 7 minutes more.
Add the cumin, paprika, salt, and red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes more.
Stir in the lentils, stock, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, vinegar, zucchini, and olives. Bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low-medium and cover with a lid.
Simmer the stew until the zucchini is tender, ~20 minutes.
When the stew is done cooking, stir in the raisins (if using). Taste and season with some additional salt and pepper, if needed.
Set half of the stew aside for Wednesday.
If the rice was made ahead, reheat in the microwave. (Reserve half for Tuesday.)
Serve the stew over rice with cilantro on top. Enjoy!