I had the pleasure of attending my cousin’s wedding this last weekend. I haven’t seen him in close to 20 years, so it was such a delight to get to reconnect with him and meet his new wife. I love going to weddings because here is so much to see and do…. the buffet, the music, and the CAKE (yum). Most wedding buffets are the same food (chicken, rice, green beans, right?!) but this wedding had some awesome food. They had a pasta station with handmade breadsticks, lots of olives and cheese, and fresh, made to order pasta. The other station was a Mexican station and it was calling my name! There were fajitas, a cold grilled vegetable platter, and roasted fingerling potatoes. One of the other things that I picked up was a plump green pepper stuffed to the gills with a beef mixture. Upon closer investigation, I found that it was picadillo.
Picadillo is a traditional Latin American meat dish and there are as many versions as there are fish in the sea. Some have potatoes, some have raisins, and some have bay leaves (yuck!), while others have capers. Our cooking club made a version of it a few years back and we stuffed it into empanadas. They were, hands down, one of my favorite things we’ve made of all times.
So here we are, back at Meatless Monday, and I couldn’t get that picadillo out of my brain. My girlfriend, Paige, has been coaxing me to try meatless crumbles and I finally crumbled (sorry, but I couldn’t resist). I bought Morningstar Farms to create this recipe. I was more than pleasantly surprised with the flavor, texture, and ease that these provided. My husband asked “is this the beef we just got from the farmer?”. My response: “Good, isn’t it?” *insert winning smile here* I encourage you to give this meal a try, even if the crumbles might be a little bit outside your comfort zone.
Spicy Vegetarian Picadillo
If you prefer a meaty version, you can use 1 lb of lean ground beef. This dish has a medium heat level (my 2 year old ate it without protest!), but if the spice is not your thing, go for 1 jalapeno instead of the two suggested.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings (1 to 1.5 cups each)
1 cup water
1/4 cup raisins
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cup diced onion
1 green pepper, diced
2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
12 ounces frozen (meatless) soy crumbles – such as Morningstar farms
28 ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/2 cup green olives, quartered
1 Tbsp liquid from olive jar
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp brown sugar
salt to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp)
1) Heat water in microwave safe dish until boiling (2-3 minutes). Remove dish from microwave and place raisins in boiled water. Allow to soften in water for 15-20 minutes. Drain, reserving plumped raisins.
2) Heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, green pepper, and jalapenos. Saute until soft and slightly browned (about 5 minutes). Add minced garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
3) Add frozen soy crumbles, stirring frequently until thawed and well combined (about 2 minutes).
4) Reduce heat to medium. Add tomatoes, green olives, olive liquid, drained raisins, cumin, brown sugar, and salt. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes, until heated through and the flavors have had a chance to meld. Serve over rice or as a filling in stuffed pepper, casserole, or empanadas.