Hey everyone, I wanted to send out a special edition of my newsletter this week to recognize the upcoming third cookbook from my good friend Melissa Joulwan. Mel's previous books, Well Fed and Well Fed 2, continue to be mainstays in our kitchen library. Truth be told, when first adapting to a healthier lifestyle, Mel's blog was my secret weapon for success: relentlessly optimistic, beautifully written, and a clear example that healthy food can = delicious.
I'm particularly excited about this third book, as it combines the best features of the first two Well Fed books - approachability, fun, and tastiness - into a concise package with each dish ready in 45 minutes or less (most take about 30 minutes).
Inspired by food trucks, takeout classics, and international cuisine, there is a bit for everyone in these pages: 128 complete meals (proteins, veggies, fats, and garnishes) with ingredients you can find in your local grocery store, and sporting variations for each recipe to keep things fun. My favorites include Dirty Rice, Fried Chicken Meatballs, Pizza Noodles, an Italian Hoagie Salad, and the Picadillo with Plantains recipe that Mel is letting me share with you folks below.
Because Mel is awesome (as if that wasn't clear enough already), she's also providing a 70-page sampler of the book, complete with 18 recipes and how-to info, in anticipation of the book's release. Click here to download the PDF for free!
PICADILLO WITH PLANTAINS
The piquant hash known as picadillo is found in many Latin American countries, and, like many beloved food traditions, each country and cook puts its own spin on the basics of ground meat, tomatoes, and spices. My version is a nod to the Cuban way, with cumin, raisins, and pimiento- stuffed green olives. The meat is often used as a stuffing for fritters, so I turned that idea inside-out and added cubed plantains for a chewy bite of (resistant) starch.
Total time: 30–35 minutes
2 large green plantains
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1 bay leaf
1 pound ground beef
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup water
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/3 cup raisins
1/3 cup small pimiento-stuffed green olives
garnish: 1 lime, fresh cilantro, scallions
Boil the plantains. Cut off both ends of each plantain, then with the tip of a sharp knife, make shallow slits lengthwise along the skin. Use your fingers to pry o the strips and discard the skins. Cut the plantains into 1/2-inch pieces and place them in a saucepan. Add the salt and enough water to cover the plantains by about two inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low and simmer until a knife slides into the plantain with no resistance, about 10–12 minutes. Meanwhile...
Make the picadillo seasoning. Warm the oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat, 2 minutes. While the oil heats, finely dice the onion then add to the pan and cook until softened, 7–10 minutes. Peel and crush the garlic cloves and place in a small bowl with the cumin, salt, coriander, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, and bay leaf. Add the garlic-spice mixture to the pan and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Cook the beef. Crumble the ground beef into the pan and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until it’s no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Push the meat to the side of the pan and drop in the tomato paste; fry for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add the water, vinegar, and raisins; stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 3–4 minutes, until the liquid has reduced and thickened. While it cooks, prep the garnishes: cut the lime into wedges, mince the cilantro, and slice the scallions.
Bring it home. Drain the plantains and add them to the meat, along with the olives. Stir to combine and cook for 1–2 minutes.
To serve, divide the picadillo among individual bowls and top with the garnishes.
YOU KNOW HOW YOU COULD DO THAT?
Replace the beef with ground pork, turkey, or lamb.
Make it Puerto Rican style: add capers and cooked potatoes instead of plantains.
Make it Dominican: add hard-boiled eggs.
Make it Filipino: skip the olives and add a fried egg on top of each serving.
Boil the plantains, make the spice blend, and prep the garnishes in advance. Store everything in separate airtight containers in the fridge. Just before eating, cook the meat and combine with the plantains.
Click here to pre-order the book, which comes out November 1st.