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Dinner in Minutes: Simplified Ropa Vieja still flavorful

“Old cloths” is the literal translation of Ropa Vieja, a Cuban dish traditionally made with leftover meat or flank steak that has simmered until it falls apart.

For this quick version, I cut the steak into paper-thin slices and sautéed it first. Then I added it to the sauce for a few minutes to absorb the flavor.

The result gives the feeling and flavors of the traditional long-cooked dish without taking hours to make. Served with a 10-minute rice, it makes a great, quick dinner.

This meal contains a total of 535 calories per serving with 30 percent of calories from fat.

Pan-Fried Ropa Vieja (Flank Steak in Tomato Sauce)

1/2 pound flank steak

Vegetable oil spray

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup sliced onion

1 cup sliced carrots

2 teaspoons minced garlic, crushed

1/2 medium green pepper, sliced (about 1 cup)

1 3/4 cup canned whole tomatoes with sauce

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup sliced pimentos in water

Cut meat into paper-thin slices. Heat a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium-high heat and spray with vegetable oil spray. Sauté meat about 2 minutes. Remove to a plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

In same pan, sauté onion, carrots, garlic and green pepper for 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium and add whole tomatoes and oregano. Break up tomatoes with a spoon as they cook. Simmer 5 minutes.

Return meat to the pan. Mix well. Add pimentos, salt and pepper to taste. Cook 1 minute. Serve over rice.

Yield: 2 servings

Nutrition per serving: 315 calories (30 percent from fat), 10.5 grams fat (3.9 grams saturated, 4.4 grams monounsaturated), 40 milligrams cholesterol, 29.1 grams protein, 28.4 grams carbohydrates, 7.2 grams fiber, 138 milligrams sodium

Brown Rice

1 package microwaveable brown rice

2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook rice according to package instructions. Measure 1 1/2 cups cooked rice and reserve the rest for another meal. Add olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 2 servings

Nutrition per serving: 220 calories (29 percent from fat), 7.1 grams fat (1 gram saturated, 4.1 grams monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 3.8 grams protein, 29.3 grams carbohydrates, 1.5 grams fiber, 11 milligrams sodium.

Linda Gassenheimer is the author of 14 cookbooks. Visit her Web page at or email her at