Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Pura Vida Picadillo

Picadillo is a minced mash up of vegetables that's common in Latin American cuisine. And, it's delish! This one is based (loosely) on the vegetables that are readily available in Costa Rice, with some slight changes to make it easy to find the ingredients right here in the US. For those interested in etymology, the Spanish word for mince is "picar", hence the word picadillo. Pura Vida means pure life, and is a slogan that's seen throughout Costa Rica.


1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup chopped red pepper
1/4 cup thinly sliced celery
1/4 cup chopped cilantro, divided in half
1 tsp minced fresh or dried oregano
1 light orange squash, or 2 small chayote squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed to make 1 cup
1 cup corn, cut fresh off the cob, or frozen kernels
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions: Heat the olive oil in a nonstick skillet. Add the onion, garlic, pepper, celery, and half of the cilantro. Cook until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the squash, corn and chicken stock and cook until the squash and corn are tender, about 10 minutes longer. Add the remaining cilantro near the end of the cooking time, then taste, adding salt and pepper to suit your palate. 

Serves 4 

Stealthy Cooking Tip: I used half of a butternut squash, because I had it available and waiting to use in the refrigerator. Chayote squash or ayote squash are the traditional squash varieties used in this dish. The picadillo I had was served by a local resident who was an amazing cook! She used the ayote squash which is the color of a light pumpkin, and had a similar flavor. Whichever squash you use, the combination of squash and corn, along with the subtle flavor of cooked cilantro is a winner!

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