Ropa Vieja with Olives and Capers

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Ropa Veija is a traditional Cuban dish featuring beef that is slowly stewed in a sauce of tomatoes, garlic, and bell peppers until it falls apart into shreds. With the texture of pulled pork and the comforting flavor of pot-roast, Ropa Veija is a real crowd pleaser!

Although it does take a while to make (about 3-1/2 hours), the recipe couldn’t be simpler and it doesn’t require a lot of hands-on time. It’s also the kind of dish that tastes even better the next day, after the flavors have had more time to meld. I like to make a big batch on a lazy Saturday afternoon, then make Ropa and Swiss Sandwiches – a dish I fell in love with at New World Bistro Bar – to eat while we watch football (go Bills!) on Sunday.

Ropa Vieja with Olives and Capers
Serves 6
Approx. 380 calories, 20 grams fat, 11 grams carbohydrates, 3 grams fiber, 37 grams protein
  • 3 Tbs olive oil, divided
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (optional)
  • 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 cup red wine
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1.5 lbs beef brisket or flank steak
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 Tbs capers
  • 1/4 cup green olives, chopped
  • 1. Heat 1 Tbs olive oil in a heavy stock pot or dutch oven set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook for five minutes, or until it beings to soften. Add the garlic, green pepper and jalapeno, and tomatoes. Stir to combine, breaking down the tomatoes with a spoon. Add the bay leaf, cumin, and oregano and cook until all of the vegetables have softened. Add the red wine and simmer for 20 minutes.

    2. Heat remaining 2 Tbs oil in a skillet. Add the beef brisket and cook for about 3 minutes on each side, or until it is nicely browned. Remove from skillet and add to the pot along with your vegetables.

    3. Add water. Cover and cook over medium heat for one hour. Add the capers and olives and cook uncovered for another two hours, or until beef is tender and can be easily shredded into thin ropes.

    Serving Suggestion: Since Ropa Vieja is pretty substantial on its own, I like to balance it out with lighter side dishes. Black beans and plantains make the perfect dinner platter. I also like to serve Ropa and Swiss sandwiches on crusty rolls with a side a braised greens.


    Hi, I'm Lauren!

    I'm a certified plant-based cook and enthusiastic omnivore who loves looking for creative ways to make weeknight meals more nutritious. I'm the author of Heathy Eating One Pot Cookbook and Healthy Meal Prep Slow Cooker Cookbook. I also blog at The Busy Foodie. Read more...


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    23 thoughts on “Ropa Vieja with Olives and Capers”

    1. Made it tonight. I added a few carrots. Only thing I would do differently is maybe nix the capers. Really solid though. I used a big flank steak.

      • I have to admit that the inspiration for the olives and capers also came from rick Orlando at New World, but I love the little bit of something special that they add. Especially the capers.

    2. Your second pic, of the huge pot and the stain of ropa vieja juice running down the sides…stunning. That pic just wowed me and I just almost wanna lick it. When the pot isn’t hot, of course.

      I keep telling myself I wanna make pulled pork, but always chickn out when I see the price of the pork.

      • Thanks! I like that photo too, but I almost didn’t post it because Shawn told me it looked “gross.” Glad I didn’t listen to him. 😉

        You should go for it! You only need a small piece – it goes a long way! It freezes well too if you end up making too much. The cost per serving isn’t too awful.

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