This recipe is inspired by the Cuban national dish, ropa vieja. The English translation of ropa vieja is “old clothes”, because the shredded beef and vegetables look like rags. This slow cooker vegan (or vegetarian) ropa vieja recipe uses thin sliced seitan, shredded jackfruit, dry white wine, peppers, red onion, crushed tomatoes, green olives, and savory herbs and spices. Simmer it for hours, and then, top with cilantro, give it a squeeze of lime, and enjoy over rice with Cuban Black Beans. Maybe some fried plantains on the side? I’m hungry just thinking about it!
This is a revised vegan ropa vieja recipe. While you could dump all the ingredients into a slow cooker and hope for the best, I find that spending a bit more time with the sauce makes all the difference! Sauteing the onions, burning off the alcohol in the white wine and allowing the sauce a bit of time to simmer, bring this dish together.
You can either buy seitan at the store or make your own from scratch. I like combining jackfruit with seitan in this vegan ropa vieja dish, because it adds more texture, protein and fiber. If you want to make this gluten free, simply omit the seitan, and then, increase the young jackfruit to 3 cans, instead of 2.
Please enjoy this slow cooker vegan ropa vieja recipe 💚
Slow Cooker Vegan Ropa Vieja
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
4-5 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 ½ tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
1 medium green pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium red pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium yellow pepper, thinly sliced
½ cup dry white wine
1 cube or 1 tsp fake beef bouillon (Edward & Sons Not-Beef Bouillon Cubes worked very well)
28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes
2 cups or 1 pound seitan, sliced into small strips (see notes above)
2 14 ounce cans of organic young jackfruit packed in water, drained and shredded (see notes above)
¾ cup sliced green olives
Fresh cilantro, to top
Prepared brown rice, to serve
1. First, you’ll sauté the veggies for the vegan ropa vieja. In a large heavy pot or dutch oven, add red onion, olive oil and a pinch of salt. Sauté over medium-low heat for 10 minutes or until the onions are very limp and translucent. Add smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, bay leaves, garlic, and peppers. Sauté another minute or two.
2. Add dry white wine, and allow 50% of it to evaporate away—simmering uncovered over low heat for ~5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Add the crushed tomatoes and bouillon. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
4. While the vegan ropa vieja sauce is simmering, add the seitan, jackfruit, and olives to the crockpot. Once the sauce is done, add it to the crockpot as well. Combine everything together, secure the lid, and cook on HIGH for 4-5 hours.
5. Remove the lid. Taste the vegan ropa vieja, and adjust seasonings, if needed (more salt? more smoked paprika?). Serve with Cuban Black Beans, brown rice, and cilantro.