Vegan Cuban Picadillo! Inspired by the flavorful and fragrant Cuban Picadillo, this fun vegan twist on a classic dish comes together in no time and is brimming with delicious goodness.
Bringing all those amazing Cuban flavors together with this delicious, hearty, and comforting Vegan Cuban Picadillo. Plant-powerhouse ingredients like: onions, bell peppers, garlic, tomatoes, green olives, raisins and potatoes come together in a delightfully seasoned sauce. It’s a simple Cuban style dish that layers in flavor and textures. Serve it over steamed rice or baked potatoes and topped with freshly chopped cilantro and sliced avocados, you just know it’s going to be good!
Whole Food Plant Based, Vegan, plant based, oil free, refined sugar free, no highly processed ingredients and gluten free.
Hi there, Ameera here!
Picadillo is kind of like a Cuban style hash. It plays with a briny and sweet flavor combination. The brininess comes from green olives and the sweetness comes from the raisins. It is traditionally made with beef or pork, raisins, olives, tomatoes, and potatoes. It’s total comfort food.
First, and foremost, I want to be very clear that I have never had traditional, authentic Cuban Picadillo. This Whole Food Plant Based recipe is a nod to that dish. We think it tastes delicious, but we wanted our Cuban Readers to understand that this dish is inspired by Cuban Picadillo and we know that it is not authentic.
We totally fell in love with this simple dish with its complex flavors. It just works!
I’ll let Mom tell you more!
Hi! Robin here.
This recipe is all Monkey. I have never had Cuban Picadillo, well… Monkey has never had authentic Cuban Picadillo either, so we want that to be clear as we sometimes have Readers who get very upset with our naming conventions for ethnic inspired dishes.
I often wonder if other food bloggers experience the same concerns expressed when they veganize dishes and use the “traditional” names. It’s impossible to come up with a different name simply because it’s veganized. We simply are using the name that inspired the dish to give people a reference point.
We don’t get upset when people veganize Italian dishes. Michael (he’s Lebanese) doesn’t get upset when people make dessert hummus, something completely unheard of in the Middle East.
Anyways, (stepping off soap-box now) this WFPB Cuban Picadillo is absolutely delicious! We certainly hope you give this deliciousness a try.
- Instant Pot or Ceramic/enamel lined Dutch oven or similar large stock
- Small sauce pot (if cooking the optional potatoes)
Bringing all those amazing Cuban flavors together with this delicious, hearty, and comforting oil-free Vegan Cuban Picadillo.
- 1 cup yellow onion, fine dice
- ½ green bell pepper, small dice
- ½ red bell pepper, small dice
- 2 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 1– [ 14 oz. can ] petite diced tomatoes
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ cup low sodium vegetable broth *
- ½ cup pimento stuffed green olives, sliced
- ½ cup raisins *
- 1 cup cooked/canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda *
- 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, cut into ½-inch cubes (optional)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 Tablespoons dried minced onion flakes
- ¾ teaspoon cumin
- ¾ teaspoon regular chili powder
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ to 1 teaspoon sea salt (+/-) *
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper (+/-)
- Chopped cilantro
- Steamed rice
- Sliced avocadoes
- Baked potato
- Place the Spice/Herb Ingredients (except the bay leaf) in a small bowl, mix well, set aside.
- In a small stock pot, add the diced potatoes, cover with water, sprinkle a little sea salt. Bring to a rolling boil, then lower to a slow simmering boil. Boil for approximately 7 minutes (+/-) just until the potatoes are tender. Drain and rinse with cold water, set aside.
- In a large ceramic/enamel lined Dutch oven/pot (or similarly large stockpot) add the diced onions and bell peppers, sauté over medium-high heat for 7 to 9 minutes to soften the veggies. Add a splash of water or broth to prevent burning, if needed. Then add the finely minced garlic and tomato paste, sauté over medium heat for one minute. Then add the Spice/Herb Ingredients, sauté for one minute just to allow the spices to release their fragrance.
- Add the water, vegetable broth, bay leaf, and petite diced tomatoes, bring to a boil, then immediately decrease to a simmer, add the baking soda, stir really well. Then add all the remaining ingredients except the potatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, gently stir in the potatoes and simmer for 5 minutes.
- Taste test the flavors, ramp up any spices if needed to reach the desired flavor.
- Remove the bay leaf. Serve with rice (or over a baked potato), top with freshly chopped cilantro and avocado slices. Enjoy!
TIPS for SUCCESS:
- Cooked Yukon Gold Potatoes: If you plan to add the potatoes, cut them into small ½ inch cubes and cook them separately in a small pot. Place the cubed potatoes into a small sauce pot, cover with water, add a sprinkle of sea salt, then boil just until tender, approximately 7 to 9 minutes. Do not over-cook them. The reason the potatoes are cooked separately is because this dish traditionally does not have a lot of liquid (to cook the potatoes). That coupled with the tomatoes (acidity) requires a lot of cooking time to soften the potatoes. Cooking them separate ensure a tender potato.
- Tenderness of the Potatoes: It is really important to cook the potatoes just until tender. If you cook them to the point that they fall apart, then they will fall apart completely when you stir them into the Picadillo. They should be just tender with a tiny hint of firmness. They will cook a tiny bit in the dish at the very end. When you add them to the Picadillo, gently stir them in, then stop. If you continue to stir, you can accidentally break them apart. They taste amazing in the Picadillo, but you do need to exercise a tiny bit of care.
- Briny and Sweet: The pimento stuff green olives combined with the raisins adds this lovely play on brininess versus sweetness. If you are not a huge fan of pimento stuffed green olives, then this recipe is not for you.
*Vegetable Stock: We use Pacific Organic Low Sodium Vegetable Stock. We love this brand because it is Whole Food Plant Based compliant, as it does not contain MSG, has no oil, and does not contain any highly-processed ingredients.
*Baking Soda: Baking soda is often used as a neutralizer for dishes that contain a lot of acidity, typically from tomatoes. We use it in this dish to remove some of the tomato acidity (from the tomato paste and petite diced tomatoes) without losing the tomatoey flavor. When you add it, the mixture will bubble up, then settle down as it neutralizes the acidity.
*Raisins: We used golden raisins, but you can use regular raisins as well. Additionally, if you enjoy the play between the sweetness of the raisins and the brininess of the olives, feel free to use more raisins.
*Sea Salt: Please adjust the sea salt based upon your family’s sea salt preferences and/or based upon dietary needs.
*Storage: Refrigerate and use within 5 days.
This post contains affiliate links, and we may receive a very small commission if you purchase through those links at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Monkey and Me Kitchen Adventures! For more information, see our disclosures here.