Vegetarian Ropa Vieja with Jackfruit and Black Beans
with roasted zucchini / rice
We last featured this vegan tribute to the national dish of Cuba in 2022. It uses jackfruit and black beans for a tender-savory base. Olives and capers stirred in at the end of cooking give it a bright finish.
Smarts: This makes a double batch of vegan Ropa Vieja so you can use the leftovers on Thursday.
- Rice, white or brown - 1 cup
- Onions, medium - 1 , thinly sliced
- Bell peppers, red - 1 , thinly sliced
- Bell peppers, yellow - 1 , thinly sliced
- Garlic - 4 cloves , chopped
- Oregano, dried - 2 tsp
- Cumin, ground - 2 tsp
- Paprika - 2 tsp
- Cinnamon, ground - 1/8 tsp
- Allspice, ground (opt) - 1/8 tsp
- Olives, pitted green - 1 cup , sliced (look for pre-sliced)
- Capers - 2 Tbsp , drained and rinsed
- Jackfruit (20 oz / 567 g) - 2 cans , drained and rinsed
- Beans, black (14 oz / 397 g) - 2 cans , drained and rinsed
- Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
- Stock, any type - 1 cups
- Tomatoes, crushed (15 oz / 397 g) - 1 can
- Bay leaves - 2
- Cilantro leaves (opt) - 3 Tbsp
- Zucchini - 1 lb , sliced
- Oil, cooking - 2 Tbsp
- Cumin, ground - 1 tsp
- Chili powder - 1/2 tsp
- Lemon juice - 2 tsp
Rice - (Skip if made ahead for Monday.) 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)
Onions / Bell peppers / Garlic / Zucchini - Prep as directed. Combine onions and bell peppers in one container. Store garlic and zucchini in their own separate containers. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
Make spice blend - Combine oregano, cumin (portion for ropa vieja), paprika, ground cinnamon, and ground allspice. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
Olives / Capers - Prep as directed and combine. (Can be done 1 day ahead)
Jackfruit / Beans - Drain and rinse.
Heat oven to 400F / 204C.
While oven is heating, heat oil (portion for Ropa Vieja) in a Dutch oven or large saucepan with lid over medium heat. Add bell peppers and onions with some salt. Saute until very tender, 8 to 10 minutes.
Next, add jackfruit and saute until dry and starting to brown in spots, 3 to 4 minutes.
Add spice blend and garlic. Saute until fragrant, ~2 minutes.
Stir in stock, crushed tomatoes, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer.
Cover jackfruit and simmer, stirring occasionally, until jackfruit is tender and falling apart, 20 to 30 minutes (a longer cook time will make the jackfruit more tender, so taste and cook until it is done to your liking).
Once jackfruit is simmering, toss zucchini slices with oil (portion for zucchini), cumin (portion for zucchini), chili powder, and some salt and pepper. Spread out in a single layer on a sheet pan (use two pans if needed).
Bake zucchini, flipping it with a spatula halfway through cooking, until tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
When jackfruit is nearly finished cooking / very tender, remove and discard bay leaves. Stir in black beans, olives, and capers. Continue cooking, uncovered, until some of the excess liquid has cooked off and beans are heated through, 4 to 5 minutes more.
Taste jackfruit and black beans and season with some more salt and pepper if needed. Use a slotted spoon to remove half of the jackfruit and black beans for Thursday night's meal.
Squeeze lemon juice over zucchini.
If rice was made ahead, reheat in the microwave.
Serve ropa vieja over rice with cooking liquid spooned over top. Top with cilantro leaves (if using). Enjoy zucchini on the side.