Picadillo is a tomato and beef hash dish with Spanish roots and various types of Picadillo is found throughout the Spanish speaking world. In Cuba, Picadillo usually includes not just beef and tomatoes, but stock, peppers, onions, garlic and olives as well, and is seasoned with oregano and cumin. Some Cuban recipes also calls for chopped potato cubes, raisins and capers, and to sauté the dish in both olive oil and white wine. Cuban Picadillo is traditionally served with rice and black turtle beans.

Recipe for Cuban Picadillo (yields six servings)


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 lbs ground lean beef
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • A handful of green olives, pitted and quartered
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 2 tablespoon capers
  • Salt to taste
  • Black pepper to taste



  1. Heat up the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic and cayenne pepper to the saucepan and sauté until the onion is translucent. This will usually take about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the ground beef to the saucepan. Chop and mash while stirring, until the beef is slightly browned.
  4. Add tomatoes, olives, cumin and oregano to the saucepan and stir gently to mix the ingredients.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add capers, salt and pepper. Cover the saucepan with a lid and leave to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring only once in a while.
  6. Serve right away, with rice and black turtle beans.


Cooking black turtle beans

Rinse 500 grams of dried black turtle beans and remove any bad beans and debris. Place the good beans in a large pot and fill it with water, up to one inch above the beans. Leave the beans to soak over night.

The next day, discard the soaking water and refill with fresh water. Add the following items to the bean pot:


  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 2 minced green chillies
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano


Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat and let the dish simmer until the beans are tender. This will usually take around 1 ½ hour.


When the beans are tender, add 3 minced cloves of garlic and 4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.


Your black turtle beans are now ready to be served next to Cuban Picadillo.


Tip! The water used for cooking black turtle beans can be saved and used as a broth in other dishes, such as soups, stews and rice. It is dark and will add black color to a dish.


About the black turtle bean

The black turtle bean is a variety of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). It is small, black and shiny. All common beans are native to the Americas, and this is still the part of the world where the black turtle bean is most popular. It is included in a lot of Latin American and Caribbean dishes, and also in Cajun and Creole cuisine in southern U.S. The black turtle bean has a dense texture, often likened to that of meat.