Vegetarian Picadillo

Picadillo is Cuban comfort food at its best.  This Latin American version of ground beef hash is not too unhealthy, but it can easily be made more healthy, and even vegetarian, with some adjustments.  Inspired by my trip to Spiral Diner, even though it wasn’t the best experience, I decided to try a vegetarian version of the recipe.

Picadillo was one of the first Cuban dishes I learned to make because it is a one-pan recipe that is difficult to mess up and easy to customize.  Traditionally, picadillo is made with ground beef, green pepper, tomato, onion, garlic, potatoes, olives, raisins, and various seasonings. (There’s lots of variations, including this one, so this isn’t a strict recipe.) If you’re still feeling carnivorous, an easy way to make it healthier is to substitute ground beef for extra lean ground turkey.  With Spiral Diner in mind, I decided to give the recipe a vegetarian twist by substituting the ground beef with Morning Star Grillers Recipe Crumbles.  I also substituted regular potato for sweet potato for some of extra fiber and vitamin A.

This Vegetarian Picadillo was just as good as the turkey version I usually make.  I couldn’t really tell that I was not actually eating meat.  I also enjoyed the extra sweetness the sweet potatoes offered and its bright contrast to the subtle kick of cayenne.  There are also a couple advantages of vegetarian picadillo:  1) the veggie crumbles are cheaper than ground turkey and 2) since the crumbles are precooked, the recipe takes less time to make.
I ate my vegetarian picadillo with a side of brown rice and sliced avocado sprinkled with a little salt.  Usually I’d have picadillo with tostones (fried green plantains), but I wanted to keep the meal healthy.  My next experiment will have to be healthy tostones.
1 bag of Morning Star Grillers Recipe Crumbles (or extra lean ground turkey for non-vegetarians)
1 chopped green pepper
1 can of chopped tomatoes
1 chopped cooked sweet potato (To save time, find cubed sweet potato in the freezer section)
1 chopped medium onion
3 tbls minced garlic
1/2 cup pimento-stuffed green olives (sliced or whole)
1/4 cup raisins (I like to add a little more)
olive oil for sautéing
salt & pepper to taste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper (or to taste, I like it with a kick)
1.  Heat up olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.  Add onions, pepper, and garlic and saute until soft.
2.  Add the can of chopped tomatoes and veggie crumbles and saute until cooked through (or add ground turkey and saute until browned and cooked through.)
3.  Add the seasonings, sweet potato, olives, and raisins and cook for another 5 minutes.
4.  Carefully taste and adjust seasonings.
5.  Serve with brown rice and enjoy!

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