For those of you that don’t know, I’m half Cuban and half Spanish. I love my culture, especially the food. Lately, I’ve been thinking about ways I can still have those dishes I love, but make them plant-based. Easier said than done, but when it comes to replacing things like chicken or beef, my go-to has become jackfruit because of how it takes on flavor and the texture is pretty dang close to shredded meat. For me, it’s not the meat that I miss, it’s the sauces. (Which is why I’m satisfied with things like buffalo cauliflower. It was never the chicken, it was the sauce.) So, here’s what I came up with…

2 cans jackfruit
2 TBSP Spanish Olive Oil
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
8oz tomato sauce
6oz tomato paste
1 small onion, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
2 tsp Paprika
2 tsp oregano
2 tsp ground cumin
1 TBSP Salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp fresh cilantro (optional)
1 TBSP white vinegar
1/4 cup Spanish olives, halved (optional)

To prepare the sauce:
In a stock pot, on medium heat, sautee the garlic in 2 TBSP of EVOO. Once aromatic, add the onion and green bell pepper. Sautee until soft. Add the vegetable broth, tomato sauce, tomato paste, oregano, paprika, cumin, white vinegar, salt & pepper, bay leaf, and olives (optional). Simmer for 45 minutes.

To prepare the jackfruit:
Meanwhile, drain and rinse jackfruit. Boil in water for 20 minutes. Drain and shred (you can use your fingers or two forks. It should shred just like pulled chicken or pork) Add the shredded jackfruit to the sauce pot and let simmer for the remaining 15 minutes. Don’t forget to remove the bay leaf when done!

Serve with black beans and rice and some baked plantains. Sprinkle some fresh cilantro onto the Ropa Vieja if you like!

Traditional Ropa Vieja is made with beef. It also takes a LONG time too cook… I’m talking 4+ hours… Ain’t nobody got time for that. This vegan version, and it’s sides, took 1 hour and made about 6-8 servings!