By Nancy Eisman
Traditionally a mixture of ground meat, onions, garlic, peppers, and tomatoes, picadillo is used as a filling for tacos (Mexico) or served over rice with black beans (Cuba). Other locales (Spain, Puerto Rico) have their own recipes, which might include potatoes, carrots, green olives, capers, and raisins, and also serve the dish as a hash, stew, or filling.
Plant-based picadillo easily replaces the meat with Melissa’s Soy Ground® or Soy Taco®, and then plays around slightly with the prep. Rather than simply sautéing the onions, garlic, peppers (jalapeño chiles are my sub), and tomatoes, we’re going a bit more labor intensive with some dry-smoking. (Of course you can skip this process and just sauté away, but the flavors won’t be smokin’.)
Instead of potatoes I’ve included plantains because they’re delicious with a slight sweetness, which along with the raisins and shredded raw carrots (used as a topping) balance the savory spiciness of the other ingredients. This classic recipe with some PB411 twists will jazz up your tacos, flavorfully stuff your burritos, or just fill you up with wonderful, satisfying warmth and comfort.
2 small-to-medium jalapeños, cut in half
1 large yellow or white onion, cut into quarters
4 garlic cloves
2 medium Roma tomatoes, cut in half
Cast iron pan
1 ½ cups ripe plantain, cube
1 package Melissa’s Soy Ground® or Soy Taco®
½ cup stuffed green olives, chopped
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons raisins
4 ounces tomato sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Splash of pickled red onion liquid
1/3 cup fresh cilantro leaves & stems, chopped
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
Pickled red onions*
To dry smoke, heat a cast iron pan until extremely hot, and then cover the inside with wood chips. Cover the chips with aluminum foil and then place the jalapeños, onion, garlic and tomatoes on top. Cover the pan, remove from heat, and let smoke for 10 minutes. When finished, uncover the veggies, remove from pan and set aside to cool until they can be handled.
When cool enough to handle, chop up the onion, add to the pan along with the plantains and sauté for 3-4 minutes with a bit of oil. Add in the jalapeño and garlic and sauté 1 more minute. Add in the Soy Ground® and sauté 4-5 minutes until browned and firm.
Stir in the olives, capers, raisins, and tomato sauce and continue cooking for 2 minutes.
Add in the oregano and cumin, and then taste and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the fresh cilantro and turn off the heat.
Take the corn tortillas, one at a time, and heat over an open flame/gas burner about 15 seconds per side.
Place some of the picadillo mixture in the center of the hot tortilla. Top with shredded carrots, pickled onion, and sliced avocado.
* diced red onion marinated in seasoned rice vinegar at least 20 minutes.