Melissa Elsmo

Mealtime benefits extend well beyond nutrition and school aged children especially experience positive perks when dining at the family table. Conversations held over anything from a simple bowl of soup to an elaborate turkey dinner equally impact young students’ grades and social lives. It doesn’t matter what is on the menu, but sharing an evening meal improves school performance and helps busy parents stay in the loop about potential problems or struggles their complicated little kiddos may be facing. In fact, introducing these Cuban inspired wraps would be an ideal way to start conversation about Hispanic Heritage Month at your family table.

The quick cooking dinner is a riff on a classic Cuban ground meat dish by the same name. Picadillo is traditionally served over rice, but I find wrapping anything in a tortilla keeps kids interested in meal time so I took the dish and turned into a taco of sorts. The addition of salty olives and sweet raisins are traditional; they bring a welcome balance to the plate without making it too adventurous for a peaceful family dining experience. A few optional garnishes punch up the heat and complexity of the meal without making it overly fussy.

Family Friendly Picadillo Wrap-Ups-makes 4-6 servings

Feel free to cook up these Cuban inspired tortilla wraps with ground turkey in lieu of beef to save on a few calories without sacrificing bold flavor.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 pound ground chuck
  • 1 small green pepper, diced small
  • 1 small white onion, minced
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained slightly
  • 1/2 Cup pimento-stuffed green olives, halved
  • 1/3 Cup raisins
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • Salt, pepper and olive juice to taste
  • 8-10 corn tortillas
  • Chopped cilantro
  • Additional minced white onion
  • Crumbled queso fresco
  • Lime wedges
  • Sliced jalapeno (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

1. Saute the ground chuck over high heat with the onion and green bell pepper until meat is well browned and vegetables are tender. Drain the fat from the meat mixture and return the pan to the heat.

2. Add the cumin and allspice to the pan and mix well. Season with salt and pepper and add the olives raisins and canned tomatoes to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook over low heat until sauce has thickened and flavors meld (about 15 minutes).

3. Adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and olive juice

4. Warm the corn tortillas and fill each one with a portion of the picadillo.

5. Garnish each taco with cilantro, onion, queso fresco, a squeeze of lime and jalapeno slices if desired.

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