This vegan picadillo is made with spiced lentils simmered up with juicy tomatoes, bell peppers, sweet raisins and pimento-stuffed green olives. Serve over rice for a cozy, delicious and healthy meal!
Sometimes, okay usually, when I learn about some new to me food item, my reaction is to get really excited and want to veganize it. This can happen even if I know nothing about the food. I just really like playing with new dishes and ingredients, and if somebody likes it, there’s usually something I can work with.
That was pretty much my reaction when I first learned about picadillo, and once I investigated, I wanted to make a vegan version even more. It’s basically a big old Latin American stew of ground beef with spices, olives and raisins. I’m fascinated by the olives + raisins combo, or just olives and sweet flavors in general. My brain says “weird,” but it’s always delicious.
It took me a while to getting around to actually making some vegan picadillo, because I was a little confused as to what to do with it. What do you do with a dish that’s 90% ground meat? Shouldn’t it be picadillo tacos or picadillo bowls or picadillo chili? I think blogging has me a little hung up on turning everything into a meal.
Really, you can do whatever you want with this one, and if you’re about tacos or bowls or chili, be my guest. I served mine up very simply, over some rice cooked up with a pinch of saffron. I’m not sure how authentic that is, but to be honest, I’m not sure what traditional picadillo even tastes like, so who cares? Bottom line: this was tasty business. Cozy, delicious, super easy and healthy.
- 1 cup dried brown lentils
- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onion, diced
- 1 bell pepper, any color, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- pinch cloves
- 2/3 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
- 1/2 cup raisins
- salt and pepper to taste
Combine lentils and water in a medium saucepan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil and lower heat. Allow to simmer until lentils are almost done, but still a bit firm at their centers, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and drain any excess water.
Coat the bottom of a large skillet with oil and place over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Sauté about 5 minutes, until softened and onions are translucent. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute more, until very fragrant.
Add lentils, tomatoes, red wine vinegar, cumin, paprika, oregano, cinnamon and cloves to skillet and flip a few times to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook just until lentils are tender and the sauce thickens up a bit, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat and stir in olives and raisins. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.