What is Ropa Vieja
Vegan Ropa Vieja is a delicious savory, warm, Cuban dish made from peppers, jackfruit, onions and olives. Cuban Ropa Vieja traditionally is made from shredded beef and translates to “old clothes.”
Origins of Ropa Vieja
According to legend, there was a man so poor he was forced to shredded and cooked his clothes to feed his family. He prayed over the cooking clothes and a miracle occurred. The cooking clothes turned into a beef stew! This dish originated from the Spanish Sephardic Jews living along the Iberian Peninsula. Since no cooking could be done on the Sabbath, they would slow cook the meal the day before. From Spain, Ropa Vieja traveled to Cuba and around the Caribbean. Although this meal has slightly evolved the basics remain the same.
How to eat Ropa Vieja
Ropa Vieja can be served as both a main or side dish. Typically, the consistency is like a stew and served over rice. Along with Ropa Vieja it is typical to also have Cuban black beans or platanos. Though it can also be eaten inside a tortilla with rice and beans.
Jackfruit: Since this is a vegan recipe, Jackfruit is used to replace the shredded beef. We used organic young canned jackfruit in brine. After opening the can we drained the jackfruit and rinsed them well. Jackfruit hold moisture well so be sure to rinse the jackfruit to get rid of excess brine flavor. In addition, the jackfruit in can form might look like little bulbs and not so much like shredded beef. For this the Jackfruit may need to be pulled apart. We used our hands but feel free to do this however you would like!
White onions + Garlic cloves: As with many dishes, but specifically in Cuban cuisine, onions and garlic are in basically every dish. Julienne onions are used as well as fresh chopped garlic cloves. If you don’t have onions and garlic on hand, feel free to use garlic powder and onions powder. It is important to note that both these ingredients are essential and important to this dish. Especially for textural purposes.
Bell Peppers: This is another important ingredient in Cuban cuisine. The bell peppers are great not only for taste and texture but also for color. We love to use yellow, red and orange bell peppers. Traditionally green bell peppers are not used. They are also sliced julienne, like the onions. The same of this dish translated to “old clothes” so the theme of all the vegetables is to be sliced as if they were shredded clothes.
Green Olives: Typically, pimiento stuffed green olives are used for this dish. These olives are also referred to as Spanish olives. Though Spanish olives are best, we used green olives because our grocery store was out of the pimiento stuffed olives. Feel free to use whatever is available!
Diced tomatoes + Tomato paste: These ingredients are essential and the base of flavor for the whole dish. Something to be mindful if the diced tomatoes are canned, they’re more likely to be slightly more acidic than fresh tomatoes. We used canned diced tomatoes but fresh works too!
Vegetable broth: We used a premade vegetable broth but something like a bouillon cube or better than bouillon would work too! The vegetable broth gives the recipe more flavor.
Spices: Spices are essential in this dish. We used Cumin, coriander, smoked paprika, bay leaf, and salt and pepper.
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Luna & Nate
8 servings per container
Serving Size1 servings
- Amount Per ServingCalories165
- % Daily Value *
- Total Fat 5.2g 8%
- Saturated Fat 0.7g 4%
- Sodium 172mg 8%
- Potassium 459mg 14%
- Total Carbohydrate 25.3g 9%
- Dietary Fiber 3.4g 14%
- Sugars 4.4g
- Protein 2.7g 6%
* The % Daily Value tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.