Picadillo is one of those dishes that is a staple in every Mexican household. It is super easy to make and kids tend to love it. It was one of my favorites growing up. In northern Mexico it is traditionally made with ground beef, onions, garlic, chiles, and potatoes. In southern and central Mexico they add raisins, olives, and even fruit. You can also find picadillo in other Latin American countries. Perhaps the most famous is the Cuban version, which consists of ground or shredded beef, onions, peppers, potatoes, olives, and capers.
Honestly, I was a little doubtful if this recipe would work with the lentils, but it works! As I was making it I could smell all the flavors coming together. My husband walked into the kitchen and got all excited, ” You’re making picadillo!” That is until I told him it was vegan and made with lentils. He hates lentils for some reason. I still haven’t been able to motivate him to go vegan with me. He tries it for a couple of weeks and goes back to eating meat. It complicates things a it at home, but we make it work. However, he has become the ultimate recipe tester. I know for sure that a recipe is good if he likes it. Usually he just complains and says, “This would be great if it had meat,” or ” All this needs is pork.” Sigh.
The Recipe: Lentil Picadillo
For this lentil picadillo I cooked the lentils first, the mashed them up a little bit. Then I have salted onion and garlic, added the lentils and a chipotle tomato purée. Then I spiced it with cumin, and oregano. You could even add a pinch of cinnamon. Serve with warm corn tortillas and Mexican rice. Enjoy!
- ½ lb. Lentils brown, cleaned and picked
- ½ Onion, yellow
- ¼ Onion, yellow, finely chopped
- 1 Bay leaf
- 1 tbsp. Olive oil optional
- 2 Garlic cloves minced
- 1 Chipotle in adobo
- 3 Plum tomatoes large
- 1 Carrot peeled, diced
- 1 Russet potato small, diced
- ½ tsp. Cumin ground
- ¼ tsp. Oregano dry
- 3 cups Vegetable broth or lentil cooking liquid
- Place lentils in a medium pot and cover with water. Add bay leaf and half of your onion, left whole. Bring to a boil and turn heat down to a simmer. Let simmer for 15 min, until lentils are slightly tender. Set aside.
- Place tomatoes and chipotle pepper in blender, and process until smooth. Set aside.
- Place olive oil into a large pot and set over medium heat. Add ¼ of an onion, finely chopped, and sweat for 2-3 minutes. Add minced garlic and sweat for 3 minute more.
- Drain lentils and reserve cooking liquid. Mash the lentils with a fork to break them up a bit.Pour lentils into pot and stir to combine with onion and garlic.
- Pour the tomato-chipotle mixture into the pot and let cook for 2 min. or until you notice that the tomato puree is changing into a dark red color.
- Add 3 cups of the lentil cooking liquid, diced carrot and potato, cumin, oregano, and season to taste.
- Bring to a simmer and cook until vegetable are tender, about 20 min.
If the picadillo seems too dry, feel free to add more cooking liquid as needed. Omit the chipotle pepper to make this recipe kid-friendly.