Vegan Picadillo

When I was little, one of my favorite meals to come home to after rigorously writing a new short story in school then singing and acting my heart out in drama club was picadillo.

My mom would serve it with white rice. And I would always Americanize the shit out of it by drizzling ranch all over that sucker. Sorry Latina heritage!

The how-to-eat-picadillo method was essential. Adopted by me, I’d put a pile of picadillo on my plate, a literal mountain, werk that flick of the wrist with the ranch, mix it all up, consume it like a vacuum cleaner, then lick the plate clean.

This dish was always so comforting, filled with rich hispanic flavor and I’d go to bed at night with a smile on my face and a smile in my belly.

BRIEF HISTORY LESSON: apparently picadillo’s origins are not clearly known, but it’s said to have started in Spain! Many Latin American countries have their own version of this dish like in Mexico, Cuba, and (of course) Puerto Rico. The word “picadillo” translates to “hash” and references the word “picar” which means to mince AKA why there is ground beef usually present in this dish.

So the years go by.

I go to college.

Become vegan.

And forget about the foods I most cherished growing up, because well, the plant life was new to me! And I cared more about eating a balanced, plant-based diet than revisiting childhood favorites.

Then more years go by. I’ve graduated college. I’m cooking and eating more creatively. It’s Christmas of 2019 and I get one of the best presents in the WORLD (gifted to me by my mother, coincidentally enough) “Weeknight One-Pot Vegan Cooking” by Nicole Malik of A fabulous cookbook that capitalizes on deliciously nourishing and international vegan recipes with “maximum flavor and minimal clean up.” #OKGURL Right up my alley.

So after the holidays, I came back home to LA. I sat on my bed and flipped through the book, deciding what to add to my grocery list before making my weekly trip to the store and came across the glorious picadillo. I called my mom right away, “Did you know this was in here?!” Turns out she didn’t.

It was the first time I’d heard the word “picadillo” in YEARS. Maybe even a decade! Weird that I can say that now. And once I made it, I got stuck on that recipe and made it 4 times after. MY NOSTALGIA KNEW NO BOUNDS!

Now that I’m staying with my family during the quarantine, I decided to make it again. And this version…oh this version…knocked my freakin SOCKS OFF.

Can you say hot damn?

I, of course, put my own little twist on this recipe. According to the cookbook, you are supposed to use sliced fresh baguette or tortillas to serve it with. I’ve never done that (although the baguette sounds lovely).

I first cooked this dish with quinoa (which is DELISH), then this time took a leap of faith and used Organic Black Pearl Rice by Lundberg Family Farms which in my opinion raised the bar to executive chef, 5 star health status.

I have also recently fallen in LOVE with TruRoots sprouted lentils! Which, you’ve guessed it, lentils take place of the ground beef in this genius dish!

IMPORTANT COOKING LESSON: if a dry grain, bean or legume is sprouted beforehand, it means the cooking time will be WORLDS less. So to really add to the effortless promises “Weeknight One-Pot Vegan Cooking” makes, you can make effort practically non-existent when you buy sprouted lentils beforehand. Found them at Sprouts. Which is a weird coincidence…

MOVING FORWARD, this recipe also calls for jalapeños and Spanish olives with pimentos but since I can never find the two things separately, I buy this genius creation below:

The recipe, as per the cookbook, also requires raisins. But since I’m not a big fan of them, nor did my mother ever add them to her picadillo growing up, I never buy them.

Lastly, the beauty that makes vegan picadillo life more and more glamorous everyday, this non-dairy ranch by Organicville.

What makes this dish truly sing, people.

So there you have it! My take on this AMAZINGLY NOSTALGIC DISH ❤ Thank you Nicole Malik! And thank you, mom, for unknowingly bringing this source of comfort back into my life!

PSA: my mom tried this dish and also LOVED the lentils in place of the ground beef. It’s too good to be true. But it is. It’s true. Ok I’ll stop fan-girling.

Recipe below.

But not before you get a load of THIS. Pre-ranch soak.


  • 2 tbsp olive oil (I actually used an imported truffle olive oil my mom has in her pantry #bougieshit)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots (less is fine)
  • 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, cubed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (elephant garlic is the best cuz every clove is HUGE, if you’re a garlic lover like me. I thank my step-dad for this discovery)
  • 1 cup low sodium vegetable broth (I always go low sodium when I can)
  • 1 cup TruRoots SPROUTED lentils (I used the Blend)
  • As much Lundberg Family Farms Black Pearl rice as your heart desires
  • 1 14.05 oz canned diced tomatoes (low-sodium if you can)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 1/2 cup jalapeño stuffed olives, sliced in half
  • Organicville’s non-dairy ranch


  1. Wash and cube potatoes. Peel back the top layer of your onion and dice 1/2 of it. Wash carrots and shred. Mince garlic. Trust me, you’ll be v grateful you did all this FIRST.
  2. Heat oil in a large pan (seriously make sure its large) over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion, salt, and pepper. Stir for 3 minutes. Add the potatoes, carrots, and garlic. Stir for 5 minutes.
  3. Start a pot for your rice and cook according to the package directions. For Lundberg Family Farms Black Pearl Rice, add 1 3/4 cups water to every 1 cup of rice into a pot. Boil. Then cover, lower the heat, and let simmer for 30-35 minutes.
  4. Add the vegetable broth, lentils, tomatoes, cumin, smoked paprika, oregano, and white wine vinegar to your large veggie pan. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 25 minutes. Dice your jalapeño stuffed olives while you wait.
  5. When the 25 minutes for your large pan of picadillo is done, stir in the capers and jalapeño stuffed olives.
  6. Spoon out your desired amount of picadillo and rice into a plate or bowl.
  7. Drizzle on that ranch and MMM, MMM, MMM. This is exactly what my childhood tasted like. Cruelty free, of course 😉

Enjoy this recipe? Let me know with a like, follow, or comment below!

Until my next post!


Rebi ❤


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