There’s really nothing great about Mondays, is there?
I mean, other than new episodes of The Bachelor, of course. Yep, you heard me right, I’m one of those people.
I really didn’t even mean to get into that show, but a girl that the husband went to high school with was a contestant (is that even the right word?) on there last season so he wanted to watch the first episode… and then I ended up getting entirely sucked in.
So, because it’s Meatless Monday and because we’re all a little bit in love with Juan Pablo, let’s make ourselves a Vegan Cuban Bowl.
(and yes, I do know that he’s from Argentina and not Cuba, but I’m not perfect, okay?)
So, about vegan food. My girlfriend Britta started introducing me to vegetarian and vegan food back when I was in college and it took me a while to warm up to it. I mean, come on… where’s the bacon, am I right?
She recently took me to a vegan restaurant here in Portland, and the food was soooo good that I didn’t even complain when I burnt the roof of my mouth so bad it blistered for three weeks. What can I say? The food was delicious and I’m a really impatient person.
Long before this horrific and tasty outing, she told me about a place called Laughing Planet that does awesome vegan, vegetarian, and
regular food meat. There happened to be one a few blocks away from the house I rented during college.
I wandered over there one afternoon, took one bite of their ‘Cuban Bowl’ and, I kid you not, I DIED. I just went straight to wanderlusty-foodie heaven. Let’s just assume there is such a thing. And that it’s filled with plantains and cashew chicken and complimentary first-class upgrades.
So, this recipe is my own re-creation of that epic dish and it’s easy enough to make on a weeknight. You know, like tonight!
Okay, a couple notes about this recipe.
First, you can totally add meat if you want. I sometimes order mine at Laughing Planet with braised beef and it’s pretty epic.
Second, make sure your plantain is REALLY ripe. Like, black. This means it will be more sweet, rather than starchy. You already have the sweet potatoes and rice so you don’t need more starch in this one.
Third, no one is going to know if you use canned black beans and microwaveable brown rice from Trader Joe’s. Alternatively, you can take the time to cook your own beans and rice from scratch, but this is a Monday and you better hurry if you don’t want to miss your trashy reality TV show!
Here’s Your Recipe!
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. cumin
- ½ tsp. salt
- ¼ c. diced tomato
- ¼ c. chopped cilantro leaves
- ¼ c. diced white onion
- 1 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 large ripe (black) plantain
- 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 (12 oz. ) can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 c. cooked brown rice
- Preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss the sweet potatoes with olive oil, cumin, and salt in a large bowl. Line a baking sheet with foil, then arrange the potatoes on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake 20-30 minutes, or until soft, turning every 10 minutes or so to prevent burning.
- Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, cilantro, and onion with the lime juice in a medium bowl and set in the fridge to let the flavors come together.
- Peel the plantain by drawing a sharp knife along the long ridges down the sides (there should be three or four), then peeling off each side of the peel in sections. Slice the plantain crosswise on an angle into bite-sized pieces. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Fry the plantain pieces until golden, about 1 or 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain and cool.
- Once the sweet potatoes have finished cooking, assemble the bowls. Divide all of the ingredients equally between the two bowls starting with the rice, then beans, sweet potatoes and plantains, then topping with the fresh pico de gallo mix.