Picadillo! A Latin American classic, and a sublimely simple dinner to whip up with your Instant Pot. In a pressure cooker, you can achieve slow-cooked flavor in a fraction of the time. It only takes a pack of ground meat, a few chopped veggies, and a couple of basic pantry staple seasonings to fix up a meal that satisfies my chronic cravings for Cuban food.
What is picadillo? Through the lens of American cuisine, you could think of it as a sort of chili, stew or hash… But simply, it’s a dish of ground meat sauteed with onions, peppers and seasonings. Different cooks make it all kinds of different ways, but I’ll walk you through my personal favorite take – inspired by the Cuban-style recipes I’ve become addicted to, thanks to the years I lived in Miami.
Tinga de pollo! In Mexican cuisine, this means shredded chicken, braised in a sauce made with chipotle chilies, tomato and onion. It’s savory, spicy, smoky, and deliciously saucy. It makes incredible tacos, and this year I used it as the star filling in one of my family’s favorite festive holiday traditions: our annual Tamale Party, fueled by Instant Pot!
This recipe is one of my go-to lazy-cook dinners – especially helpful right now while I’ve been learning how to manage dinnertime with a newborn baby in the house! My back-pocket beef & veggie bolognese is lovingly known as “insta-spaghetti”, and while it’s not the same as your all-day ‘Sunday Sauce’ fancy bolognese affair, it is a filling, nourishing, very easy comfort food dish. The recipe combines grass-fed ground beef, lots of chopped mixed vegetables, canned tomatoes and whole-wheat pasta – all in one pressure cooker.
Ever think about using your Instant Pot to transform fresh tomatoes into soup? Think about it! I gave it a shot for the first time this Summer, and the results blew me away: rich, velvety, and intensely flavorful.
Ever wonder why so many recipes tell you to remove the seeds and skins from tomatoes? I avoid that step whenever I can, and not just because it’s annoying…
While I was studying to become a dietitian, I lived in Miami for three years. Moving to Miami can cause some serious culture shock, even for a Florida native, but I have to admit that crazy town has some perks.
Some of the best perks were getting to know Cuban friends and their Cuban FOOD. In Miami, I met some of the world’s nicest people who got me very well acquainted with Cuba’s rich culinary traditions. Cafecitos. Maduros. Picadillo. Pastelitos. And one of my personal favorites, ropa vieja, a classic comfort food that makes you feel at home whether you grew up eating it or not. It’s a flavorful stew made with peppers, tomatoes, and flank steak cooked low-and-slow until the meat is tender enough to effortlessly pull apart into long shreds that resemble the fibers of threadbare cloth, hence the name (ropa vieja = old clothes).
When most people think about pressure cooker recipes, they tend to conjure up images of stews, braises, and other sorts of steamy, stick-to-your-ribs one-pot meals that enjoy the spotlight in the colder months. But don’t forget that an electric pressure cooker is also a valuable tool for summer cooking: because everything is self-contained, cooking under pressure doesn’t heat up the kitchen. So don’t neglect your Instant Pot just because even the thought of your favorite soup recipe is making you sweat… think outside the box! It may sound crazy, but this week I used my pressure cooker to make salad. I only wish I had tried it sooner, because you’re looking at an instant summer staple.
These days I do most of my recipe-clipping on Pinterest, but I still have a recipe folder on my browser’s bookmarks bar dating back from the days before ‘pinning’ was a household term (shocking, I know). The heart of the collection is a sub-folder marked “Tried and True,” which holds those special recipes that I’ve come back to again and again… the keepers! Along with the formula behind killer pumpkin garlic knots, this folder is also home to an unassuming yellow dal bookmarked from Smitten Kitchen. I made this recipe for the first time in college, just starting to dip my toes into Indian cooking, and I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve served it up since then!
This dish has been a dinner staple in my house for a lot of reasons. For one, the recipe is really straightforward, easy enough to commit to memory. It’s also super inexpensive. I do my best to cook with economy and grace, and these tasty lentils make it easy: all of the budget-friendly benefits of dried beans, but with no soaking needed. It’s a hearty vegetarian (easily vegan) source of protein – about 14 grams per serving, before the yogurt garnish. And those healthy legumes are filled out with plenty of vegetables and nutritious spices. I’ve been putting more focus on anti-inflammatory foods in my diet lately, and the turmeric, cumin, coriander, cayenne and garlic in this recipe all offer functional health benefits to reduce inflammation in the body. This is definitely an example of getting your flavor from real food, and this enticing combination is so nutritious that it’s practically medicinal!
A funny thing happened on the way to writing this post. We’re only here talking about this soup today because two months ago on RD Day, I took the opportunity to scope out a list of fellow RD bloggers. On one of the many links I clicked, I came across a giveaway raffle and entered on a whim. And out of the zillion entries, I actually won! That day I gained an awesome new Mediterranean cookbook, and my first glimpse into what has become one of my new favorite RD blogs, Zen and Spice by the talented Emily Hein. This girl inspires me to live right! If you’re like me and love cooking/eating beautiful whole foods, growing some of them yourself, and generally taking a mindful and appreciative approach to it all, you should definitely check it out!
The book that I won in the giveaway is Eating the Greek Way, by Dr. Fedon Alexander Lindberg. Emily mentioned that this is one of her favorite cookbooks, and I can totally see why. The book features gorgeous photos and recipes featuring the kind of simple but perfect food I can imagine being served up in Mediterranean kitchens on real life weeknights. And now in my kitchen too! On my weeknights! Life is grand.
Today I’m pulling through on my promise to share my successes with Instant Pot, my new electric pressure cooker (you can read more about my pressure-cooking obsession here). It’s been a revolutionary addition to my kitchen, but unfortunately for my readers its major role has been to constantly churn out oatmeal, rice, beans, and other essential staples too boring to blog about. But my favorite appliance is so much more than that! So I’m glad I finally got my act together to write up a recipe that puts Instant Pot in the spotlight.
But if you’re not into pressure-cooking, that’s no reason to pass over this recipe. I’ve been making this soup for years before I got wacky about pressurizing my foods. The flavors develop just as well after a simmer on the stovetop, and the process is still totally easy for a weeknight.