Vegan Cuban picadillo is a plant-based version of a classic Cuban comfort food. Made with green lentils, raisins and capers, this vegan picadillo is an explosion of flavour and textures that's truly memorable.
Picadillo is a hash typically made with ground meat and it's popular in many Latin American countries. Cuban versions of picadillo typically include onions, garlic, bell peppers, herbs and spices.
This vegan picadillo is made with green lentils instead of meat, but the rest of the ingredients are pretty much the same you'd find in an authentic Cuban picadillo recipe.
You can also use a plant-based meat substitute instead of green lentils. Cuban picadillo is typically served over rice, but it also pairs great with crusty bread.
Why you'll love this vegan Cuban picadillo
- It's extra flavourful. The combination of lentils, raising, capers and pimento-stuffed olives is unusual but incredibly tasty and interesting.
- It's a very nutritious meal. You'll get loads of protein from the lentils, vitamins from the veggies, plus some carbs from the potatoes for a complete meal.
- It's quick and easy to make. Vegan picadillo is a one-pot dish that's ready in just over 30 minutes.
Ingredients and substitutions
Olive oil — A tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil is all you need to saute the shallots and bell pepper. If you prefer to cook without oil, saute the veggies in a bit of stock instead.
Shallots — I like the mild flavour of shallots in this recipe, but any other type of onion will do.
Bell pepper — You can use any color of bell pepper you want in this healthy picadillo or a combination of colors.
Garlic — Fresh garlic is best for this recipe. You can either chop it finely or crush it.
Green lentils — Canned green lentils are extra convenient for this vegan Cuban recipe. You can use lentils cooked from scratch if you have time, though.
Chopped tomatoes — Crushed tomatoes or canned plum tomatoes crushed by hand are also good options in this dish.
Raisins — I like to feel the raisins in this picadillo, so I generally leave them whole, but you can chop them roughly if you'd like.
Capers — Drain the capers but don't rinse them as the briny liquid adds loads of flavour to the sauce.
Pimento-stuffed olives — You can use any other green olives in brine if you don't have pimento-stuffed ones.
How to make vegan picadillo with lentils
Add the tomato paste and garlic and continue to cook for another minute.
Stir in the raisings, capers and pimento-stuffed olives.
Serve the picadillo over rice, with crusty bread or on its own, topped with freshly chopped coriander (cilantro) if you like.
Leftovers and storage
- Leftovers will keep well in the fridge for up to 5 days in an airtight container.
- Reheat the picadillo in the microwave or on the stovetop. You may need to add a bit of water or veggie stock if it looks too dry.
- This vegan Cuban picadillo freezes well for up to 3 months. Thaw it overnight in the fridge before reheating.
Recipe notes and tips
- You can use a shop-bought meat substitute instead of canned green lentils.
- Use some red or green chilli pepper for an extra spicy picadillo.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of brine from the olives for extra flavour.
If you liked this vegan Cuban picadillo, you might also like some of my other easy vegan one-pot recipes:
- One Pot Vegan Jambalaya
- Creamy Vegan Gnocchi Soup
- Vegan Spanish Chickpeas and Rice
- Lahanorizo (Greek Rice with Cabbage)
- Vegan Spanish White Bean Stew