Vegan Cuban Bowls are perfect for Meatless Monday, or anytime you’re craving a healthy meal. Make it from scratch, or speed things up by using canned beans, microwaveable brown rice, and store-bought pico de gallo. Don’t worry, I won’t tell!
There’s really nothing great about Mondays, is there?
I mean, other than catching up on new episodes of Outlander and Game of Thrones that came out over the weekend.
I gave up cable TV about six months ago, and now I just watch Amazon Prime and Netflix if I’m in the mood to be lazy. I’m usually perfectly content with watching re-runs, but I’m willing to make an exception for these two shows. I have a Starz add-on subscription through Prime (<– SO convenient!) to watch Outlander, and I use the HBO Go app on my phone to watch GoT.
The monthly cost to keep the Starz and HBO subscriptions is probably more than I pay for Prime and Netflix, but I don’t care. I have to get my fix!
Weekends are usually way too busy for me to watch new shows as they air, so Monday nights are my catch-up time.
Here’s a weird confession for you: I love eating in front of the TV. I know that I shouldn’t, but I don’t have any kids so it’s not like I’m giving up family time by pigging out on the couch.
Sometimes I make myself a huge mess of food, then sit on the couch ready to eat it… but I can’t find anything I want to watch. I’m pretty sure I’ve even let my food get cold a few times because I just couldn’t find the *perfect* show to put on. I can’t be the only person who does this, right?
These Vegan Cuban Bowls are the ideal eat-in-front-of-the-tv meal. It’s in a bowl, you can eat it with a spoon, and it tastes amazing even if it gets a little cold. Priorities, people.
So, about vegan food. My friend Britta introduced me to vegetarian and vegan food back when I was in college and it took me a while to warm up to it. For many years I kept my “where’s the bacon?” attitude and resisted my inner instinct telling me to lay off the animal products.
She told me about a restaurant called Laughing Planet that makes a lot of awesome vegan and vegetarian dishes. There happened to be one a few blocks away from the house I rented during college, so I wandered over there one afternoon and ordered their Cuban Bowl.
I took one bite and 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 tzatziki 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!
I’ve been giving the vegetarian lifestyle a try since the day after Christmas (I wanted Christmas meat, okay!?), and at this point I don’t have any plans to turn back! I love the way that a (mostly) plant-based diet makes me feel. I still indulge in eggs and dairy (guys… cheese.), but probably about 50% of my meals are totally vegan.
This recipe also happens to be gluten-free which is great because you can make it for a crowd without worrying about gluten sensitivities.
Okay, a couple of notes about this recipe:
- First, 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.
- Second, 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 so let’s just forget about that for now.
- Third, you can grab pre-made pico de gallo in the refrigerated section of most grocery stores now-a-days, so if you’re in a time crunch just grab some while you’re doing your shopping.
Here’s Your Recipe!
For the Pico de Gallo
- 1 cup diced tomato
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
- 3 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
- 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
For the Vegan Cuban Bowls
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil, divided
- 2 cups cubed red sweet potato (yam)
- 1 tsp. cumin
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 large ripe plantain
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 cups cooked brown rice
- 1 avocado, sliced
- Lime wedges
- Combine the tomatoes, cilantro, onion, jalapeno, and 1/8 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Toss well and set aside 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 coins.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the cubed sweet potato as well as the cumin and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Toss well, then turn the heat down to medium. Saute until golden brown and fork-tender; 5-7 minutes. Transfer the cooked sweet potato to a bowl; tent with foil to keep warm.
- Add the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil to the pan and allow it to melt. Fry the plantain pieces until golden, about 1 or 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper-towel lined plate to drain.
- Warm the black beans in a small saucepan set over medium-low heat (or by microwave in a covered bowl).
- Assemble the bowls by dividing all of the ingredients equally between the two bowls in the following order: brown rice, black beans, sweet potatoes, plantains, avocado, and pico de gallo. Serve with lime wedges for squeezing.
Originally posted on February 3rd, 2014. Updated photos and recipe for clarity on June 20th, 2016.
Old photo, just for fun!