Ropa vieja (Spanish for “old clothes”) is one of the national dishes of Cuba, but is also popular in other areas of the Caribbean such as Puerto Rico and Panama. It consists of shredded or pulled stewed beef with vegetables. This was a dish we had in Havana in 2014. The beauty is that it is done in a slow cooker.
You can omit the olives, but trust me on this one. Serve with your favorite rice or use it with fresh tortillas.
Slow Cooker Ropa Vieja (Cuban Beef)
- 3 lbs. beef flank steak (or substitute Mexican arrachera)
- 1 cup beef broth
- 1 (6-oz.) can tomato paste
- 1 (14-oz.) can petite diced tomatoes
- 1.5 tsp. salt
- ¼ tsp. pepper
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. cumin
- ½ tsp. turmeric
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 small white onion diced
- 2 bell peppers, diced ( I used red for contrast)
- 1 cup Spanish olives – green
- 3 whole garlic cloves, peeled
Cooked yellow rice for serving*
Slow Cooker Size:4-quart or larger
- Add the beef broth, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, oregano, cumin, turmeric and apple cider vinegar to the slow cooker. Stir.
- Add the flank steak and flip it around in the sauce so it gets coated. Add the bell pepper, onion, olives and garlic cloves, mix those items together to combine on top of the meat.
- Cover and cook on low for 9 hours on LOW without opening the lid during the cooking time. Shred the meat with 2 forks right in the slow cooker.
If you have been following me you know that our slow cooker cooks faster for some unknown reason. When I looked up cooking on HIGH (because I was short of time) it suggested 5 hours as the equivalent. Guess what? It was done in a little over 2.5 hours using an arrachera of 1.3 kilos.
LESSON—-dont let it cook while you are away at work unless you know your cooker very well. Keep checking for doneness.
In the process of cleaning out our freezer and realized I had 500 gm of ground lamb. What to do? I have always liked moussaka in a Greek restaurant, but never made it at home. Good old Pinterest to the rescue, for what appeared to be an easy recipe and without the potatoes on top….less calories. The recipe looks complicated, but I decided to prepare the ground lamb ahead of time and put it in the refrigerator until I was ready to make the complete dish. It gave me time to prepare the eggplant while I was cleaning up from the lamb prep. The dish turned out perfectly, with our guests taking home this recipe! The photo below is from the Pinterest pinner…we got so carried away enjoying the dish that I forgot a photo. Check out Sniff It Out on Pinterest for more tantalizing recipes!
About 500g of lean minced (ground) lamb
2 Aubergines (Eggplants) medium to large in size
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 heaped tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 rounded tablespoons tomato purée
3 fl oz. (75 ml) red wine or more
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the yogurt topping for the Greek Moussaka – I used a large CorningWare casserole dish and ended up doubling the yogurt in order to cover the top.
150ml Greek yogurt (double if necessary)
1 medium egg, beaten
50g feta cheese or more
25g freshly grated parmesan or more
- Preparing the Aubergines
Leave the skins on and slice the Aubergines into approximately 10mm thick slices.
Put the slices into a colander and sprinkle them with about 1 level dessertspoon of salt. Stand the colander on a plate to catch the water which comes out of the Aubergines and put another plate on top of the aubergine slices.
You now need to weigh this plate down with something heavy (I find that a couple of tins of soup works quite well) and leave them for about an hour to let the juice come out.
After an hour, squeeze out any of the excess juice from the aubergines and dry them well in a clean cloth.
Spread the aubergine slices on a baking sheet and drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over them tossing them around to get a good coating.
Put the baking sheet in a pre heated oven (around 200 degrees) and roast the aubergines for 30 minutes or until they are browning at the edges.
I usually roast the eggplant simply because the baking tray is much bigger than the frying pan and I can get the slices done all in one go, but, if you would rather sauté the eggplant to use in the moussaka you can do that too.
- Preparing the lamb for the Moussaka recipe (I did this step first)
Because the mince can have quite a lot of fat come out of it I usually dry fry the mince until it is nicely browned then remove it from the pan and put it to one side then discard any of the fat which has come out of it before using it to make the moussaka.
Then heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the onions, garlic and thyme gently, without colouring, for about 10 minutes.
Stir the minced lamb back in and add the parsley, cinnamon, tomato purée and red wine and stir to combine the ingredients. Season the mixture well and cook gently for around 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Prepare the topping for the Greek Moussaka recipe
It’s true that Moussaka isn’t the most healthy dish on the planet, that’s why I prefer a yogurt topping for my moussaka recipe because it is a bit lighter than others I have tried but that is purely my preference. Mix the yogurt with half of the cheeses and the beaten egg and season with ground pepper.
- Putting everything together for the Greek Moussaka!
Line the bottom of a casserole dish with slices of aubergine, then spoon over some of the meat mixture. Build the layers of the moussaka up until all the meat and aubergine has been used.
Cover with the topping mixture and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and bake in a pre-heated oven at 180ºC / 350ºF for about 1 hour until golden and bubbling.
Let the Moussaka stand for about 20 to 30 minutes before cutting and serving and this will ensure that it keeps its shape when you serve it.
Canadians…Are you tired of turkey already? Try this easy one for something different.
Skillet Italian Sausage and Peppers with Penne
Prep Time: 5 minutes Cook Time: 25 minutes Total Time: 30 minutes
This comforting Italian sausage and pepper penne pasta is cooked in one skillet and comes together in 30 minutes or less for a quick and easy weeknight meal.
- 12 ounces whole-wheat penne pasta
- 1 pound Italian sausage links (1 package)
- 1 small green pepper, sliced
- 1 small red pepper, sliced
- 1 small yellow onion, sliced thin
- ½ cup red wine (merlot or pinot noir)
- 6 ounces tomato paste
- 8 ounces tomato sauce
- 12 ounces water
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Parmesan Cheese for finishing
- In a large pot of salted water, cook pasta until al dente. Reserve starchy cooking water.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Brown sausages on all sides, until almost cooked through, remove and cut into ¼ inch slices. You don’t have to worry about cooking them all the way through, they will finish cooking while the sauce simmers.
- In the same pan drizzle another teaspoon or so of olive oil and sauté the peppers and onions until slightly softened, about five minutes.
- Return sausage back to the pan and deglaze with red wine.
- Add tomato paste, tomato sauce, water, Italian seasoning, sugar and salt. Stir to combine.
- Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for ten minutes.
- Add penne to the skillet, toss with sauce. If needed add starchy pasta water to loosen the sauce up.
- Season with salt and pepper and garnish with grated Parmesan cheese.
I know..comfort food in the spring??? This one is for our friends in Newfoundland where it is still snowing in May…ugh…
Classic Meatloaf & Sauce (modified from Food Network)
1/2 lb.each lean ground beef and pork
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1/2 cup chopped Vidalia onion
1/2 cup chopped green or red bell pepper
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, tomato paste, onions, green pepper, oats, egg, salt, and pepper. Shape the mixture into a loaf and place it in a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan.
In a small bowl, whisk together the ketchup, brown sugar, and mustard. Slather the glaze on top of the meat loaf and bake until the meat loaf is firm and cooked all the way through, about 1 hour. Serve hot.
From my childhood days I remember how great meatloaf is cold too!
Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/paula-deen/aunt-peggys-meat-loaf-recipe.html?oc=linkback
Sunday at noon we usually head off to the symphony. Before we go I like to get a head start on dinner! Et voila…slow cooker….. This recipe was served by our friend, Kitti, and with or without the chorizo it was great. Serve with your preference of rice or maybe with quinoa. I think it wold also make an awesome spaghetti sauce!
SLOW COOKER EGGPLANT WITH CHORIZO AND TOMATOES
- 2 large onions chopped
- 1 eggplant sliced
- 3 carrots chopped
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1 can of tomato sauce6 to 8 cut up Roma tomatoes
- lots of garlic
- 1 chopped red pepper
- browned chorizo or sausage pieces (omit if you want a vegan dish)
- fresh baby arugula ( a handful)
Brown the chorizo in olive oil . Remove and place on a paper towel.
Add onion, garlic, and eggplant to frypan. Cook, stirring often (about 5 minutes).
Stir in the tomatoes, sauce and paste. Cook 5 minutes more.
Add seasonings: cumin- salt-pepper- OPTIONAL cayenne pepper.
Place all ingredients into the slow cooker, stirring well. Top with a handful of the arugula.
Cover and cook on high for two hours or less.
Just before serving add more arugula to the individual dishes.