30-Minute Ropa Vieja

30-Minute Ropa Vieja

Ropa Vieja was not on the tables in Cuba, at least not to my memory. What I remember includes a fresh squeezed glass of orange juice, a whole roasted pig, a hand-held pizza, the smell of rum, and the best tasting chocolate ice cream I’ve ever eaten.  

A week and a half from now I'll be packing my bags for another latin country--Ecuador-and I'm counting down the days the same way I would count down the days to summer break when I was in grade school. I always thought I would be a jet-setter. At one point I dreamed of being a National Geographic journalist, then a translator, and then a coordinator for an international NGO. 

30-Minute Ropa Vieja
30-Minute Ropa Vieja

It of course turned out that none of those paths made sense for me. In fact, I quite like my sense of home, but wanderlust itches at my heart here and there. Usually it's satisfied by a trip to the kitchen and an exotic spice blend: maybe a curry, something with West African influence, or a dish reminiscent of my time in South America.  

Ropa Vieja is one of those dishes for me: a bite of somewhere else. I have come to love it. It’s a one-pot wonder that comes together in 30 minutes or less, depending on what pace you are moving at. So turn on the rumba music, tie your apron and get out a skillet. 

A week and a half from now I'll be taking more mental notes about Ecuadorian recipes than I'll be able to remember. 

30-Minute Ropa Vieja

30-Minute Ropa Vieja

Published May 23, 2017 by
   |     Print This Recipe

A bite of Cuba, in your kitchen.

Serves: 4   |    Total Time: 30 minutes


    For the filling:
  • 1/2 white onion 
  • 1 stalk celery 
  • 2 bell peppers (red and yellow) 
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 garlic cloves 
  • 2 teaspoons oregano, dried
  • 2 teaspoon paprika, ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne, ground 
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves, ground
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice, ground 
  • 1 teaspoon salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper, ground
  • 1/4 cup white wine 
  • 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes 
  • 2 tablespoons capers 
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives 
  • 2 tablespoons parsley 


  1. Slice the onion and bell peppers, and chop the celery. Heat the coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. When the oil glistens, put the onions, peppers, and celery in the pan and sauté until the onions turn transparent.
  2. Add the beef to the pan and use a wooden spatula to break it up into grounds. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides.
  3. Mince the garlic, and add it to the skillet along with the spices: oregano, paprika, cayenne, cloves, allspice, salt and pepper. Stir, and then pour white wine into the pan and stir again, bringing to a simmer.
  4. Add the canned tomatoes, capers and sliced olives and mix in. Allow to simmer for 5 more minutes, and then top with parsley and serve hot over rice, cauliflower rice, or along side tortillas.