Thursday, October 13, 2011

Beef-less Beef Picadillo

Have you ever had Picadillo? It's an amazingly simple Latin dish that usually consists of ground beef and tomatoes served over rice. Growing up, I remember eating variations of this A LOT. It was good enough, but not something I'd necessarily order at a restaurant. Even still, a few years ago I found that I actually really missed this dish. Maybe I'd been away from home for too long, craving something nostalgic, but I got the urge to make my own picadillo. The aromas of cooking onions, red peppers, garlic, beef and tomatoes filled my apartment so beautifully that when my roommates came home they B lined for the stove to see what was cooking.

Since then I've made picadillo many times. It's super quick to whip up and uses minimal ingredients, most of which are always on hand with the exception of ground meat. We eat meat in this house, but not enough to even buy it every week. I find that buying the quality of meat we'd want to eat and feel good about gets costly rather quickly, so this week I set out to see if I could substitute Trader Joe's Beef-less Ground Beef and achieve the same yummy and filling results.

These crumbles are made of wheat and soy protein and spices and I gotta tell you, they look just like ground beef once stirred, don't you think?

To my satisfaction, the end result had almost exactly the same taste as the picadillo I usually make with ground beef. The major difference was textural, and we'll definitely be using the beef-less ground beef again for other recipes. I'm dedicating this recipe to my sister Jennifer, who is a vegetarian. If you're reading, I recommend that you give this a shot. It will take you back to your childhood and the best part is that no animals will be harmed on the trip down memory lane.

Beef-less Beef Picadillo
(makes about four servings)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 white or yellow onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
8-10 green olives, chopped
12 oz. beef-less ground beef
4 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup frozen peas
salt and pepper

In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic and olives and cook until soft, about five minutes. Crumble the beef-less ground beef into the mixture and stir until even distributed. Cook for 3-5 minutes until hot. Stir in the tomato paste (can stir in a few tablespoons of water here if you'd like to thin the sauce). Stir in the peas and turn heat to low. Cover and let peas cook for about four additional minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Serve over rice.

Optional garnish: Lime and/or chopped cilantro.


  1. Aw, thanks for the shout out! I'll definitely give the recipe a try, looks yum.

    Speaking of meat-less meals, I made three bean chili for Cody & his brother last Sunday, and Ryan didn't even notice there wasn't any meat in it.... yet, he did notice that we used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream as a garnish?! Which just surprised me because you'd think a typical, college dude would miss the meat & not even know what Greek yogurt tastes like!

  2. Greek yogurt can take some getting used to but glad they liked their meat-less chili. I want some! I think beans are the way to go.