by Katherine Matutes
I went for tall, dark and handsome when I married my Cuban-born college sweetheart, Jose Ramon Matutes (his friends call him Ray). The marriage commitment came with a promise to my lovely mother-in-law that I would do my best to teach our children about their Cuban heritage.
Easier said than done, as I now understand the challenge of cooking healthy foods that kids will eat while not spending all my time in the kitchen. Cuban meals are often heavy on the starch and are fried. But, there is another lighter side to Cuban cuisine that pairs common ingredients in an unusual way and results in tasty and somewhat exotic fare. Here is one my family’s favorites, Picadillo (pronounced pick-a-dee-yoh). I promise a healthy and delicious meal in 15 minutes!
3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 large bell pepper, diced
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 C. dried cherries or golden raisins (raisins are traditional)
15 large olives drained and sliced
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste
Heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté onions and peppers 'til somewhat soft (about 2 minutes). Add ground beef and continue to cook until almost completely browned (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and oregano and heat 2 more minutes. Add remaining ingredients except cilantro, reduce heat to simmer to allow flavors to blend (5-7 minutes), top with fresh cilantro before serving.
To round out this meal I cook brown Minute Rice while the peppers and onions are sautéing and I also serve with peas and corn on the side (although once served it is traditionally all mixed together). I use frozen peas and corn and the whole thing comes together in 15 minutes!
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