I’ve always been fascinated with Cuba. Perhaps because it remains a romantically forbidden destination, or maybe because Hemingway wrote two of my favorite novels there. Or, maybe it’s the food. Enter the Ropa Vieja.
Considered Cuba’s national dish, its name translates to ‘old clothes,’ and the story goes that a destitute old man once shredded and cooked his clothes because he could not afford food for his family. He prayed over the bubbling concoction, and a miracle occurred, turning the mixture into a tasty, rich meat stew. Generally made with flank steak, this vegan version uses the ever-versatile Jackfruit. For our Ropa Vieja recipe, we’re also adding an array of other classic Cuban and Spanish ingredients such as olives and pimentos.
Ropa Vieja only tastes better the next day as the flavors have more time to meld, so this is a perfect dish to make in large batches for leftovers! I like to serve it over Cuban black beans and cilantro rice. If you can find them, fried plantains called Maduro’s make an excellent accompaniment as well!
Place a rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 250°.
Drain jackfruit and dry with a towel.
Mix bouillon cube with 1/2 cup of hot water.
Heat oil in a large heatproof pot over high.
Cook jackfruit, turning occasionally, until browned on all sides, 5–7 minutes. Add bouillon mixture to pan and scrape and bits of jackfruit stuck to the bottom of a pan. Stir in 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Mix well. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Transfer to a mixing bowl.
In the same pan add remaining tablespoon of oil and cook onion, bell peppers. Add salt, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 12–14 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently and scraping bottom of pan, until vegetables are golden brown, 3–5 minutes.
Stir in wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until evaporated.
Stir in paprika, oregano, cumin, black pepper, and cayenne until vegetables are coated; continue to cook, stirring, until spices are fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add tomatoes and coarsely break up with a spoon (they’ll continue to break down as they cook). Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
Add jackfruit back into vegetable mixture with bay leaf.
Cover and transfer to oven. Braise until jackfruit and vegetables are very tender about 30 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes.
Discard bay leaves. Using a potato masher or 2 forks, tear and smash jackfruit into sauce until it’s shredded and incorporated into sauce.
I love a good chili recipe. For a little bit of effort, you get a massive bang for your buck! This version is the fourth and final incarnation. The addition of the cocoa powder initially went against my traditionalist chili mentality. But a friend of mine insisted that I add it at least once. I was oddly skeptical at first but utterly amazed by the complexity added! Much like salt and pepper, the cocoa powder enhances the flavor of the other spices! I promise you’ll love it!
This chili is a family favorite! It comes together perfectly and quickly! The addition of the cocoa powder adds a depth of flavor to the beans, tomato sauce, and chili powder making the chili itself taste richer!
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium green pepper, chopped into small pieces
4 cloves of garlic, pressed (or finely minced)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 (15 ounce) can of tomato sauce
1 (15 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
1 (15 ounce) can of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 (15 ounce) can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup of chili powder
1 tablespoon baking cocoa
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 teaspoon of black pepper
2/ tbsp cumin
1/2 teaspoon of oregano
Warm dutch oven over medium heat for about 2-3 minutes, then add oil. Once oil is warmed, add onion and bell pepper. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently.
Add in the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes, stirring frequently and being careful not to burn the garlic.
Add spices, coating vegetables well. Cook for about 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients, scraping up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Increase heat, and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for at least 30 minutes. The longer the chili cooks, the more flavor it will have. So, if you’ve got the time, let it very gently simmer on the stove for an hour or even up to 2 hours. If you cook it for several hours, you may need to add in just a bit more broth or water.
Once ready to eat, take off of the heat and garnish with some vegan sour cream, green onion, avocado, etc.
This is one of my most favorite meals. Not only does it check all the healthy boxes the combination of flavors is out of sight! The great thing about this bowl is that it can be made an infinite number of ways. I usually always have pickled veggies and fresh spouts on hand so they made an easy and flavorful addition to what might otherwise be a basic Buddha Bowl. Roasted Cauliflower is my most favorite addition to any bowl and with the sweet pickled onions and creamy hummus, well, sufficed to say it was my favorite meal of the week!
2 cups sangria tomatoes (grape will work too) sliced on the bias
1 cucumber sliced
1 (15.5 oz) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1 (7 oz) jar of sundried tomatoes, sliced into matchsticks
1 cup pickled red onions
Hummus (homemade or store-bought)
1 cup sprouts (alfalfa, or microgreens)
2 tsp cumin
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tsp garlic powder
1.5 tsp sea salt
2 Tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
Pepper, to taste
Sunflower Seeds (pepitas work, too!)
Preheat oven to 400°F.
Slice cauliflower into 1″ pieces, add to large mixing bowl. Drain tofu and cut into 1″ cubes, add to cauliflower. Slice tomatoes on the bias (I like to use multi-colored tomatoes for presentation) and add to the cauliflower-tofu mixture. Combine cumin, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small mixing bowl, reserving 2 tsp of spice mix in a separate bowl. Coat mixture with 2 Tbsp of olive oil, stir well making sure all pieces are coated, add spices, and stir. Add tofu, cauliflower, and tomatoes to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Roast for 25 minutes, turning mixture at halfway point.
When vegetables are done, divide all ingredients, except sprouts and hummus, between 4 bowls. Add hummus to the center of each bowl, and sprinkle with the remaining spice mix. Garnish each bowl with sunflower seeds and sprouts. Enjoy!