On this week’s podcast, my guest is registered dietitian and cookbook author, Lourdes Castro. Lourdes joins me for a culinary “tour” on the Caribbean island of Cuba. Through her cookbook, Cuba Cooks, and recipes like Cuban Rice and Beans, Citrus Marinated Chicken, Seared Romaine Hearts, and Avocado and quick pickled onions, you’ll be ready to bring the vibrant flavors of Cuba to your family’s table. Tune in … and bring your appetite and sense of adventure.
Have you ever tried a “Cuban Sandwich?” Also known as a Cubano, this grilled sandwich was actually created in Florida, and it’s made with ham and cheese. But there is SO MUCH more to traditional Cuban cuisine. As Lourdes explains, favorite ingredients and flavors include rice and beans; onions, garlic, and peppers; seafood, chicken, and pork; lime and sour orange; and oregano, cumin, and culantro.
“Rice and beans is like the PB&J of Cuban cuisine; the most basic staple that everyone loves.”
– Lourdes Castro, MS, RDN
We are giving away a copy of Cuba Cooks: Recipes and Secrets from Cuban Paladares and Their Chefs by Lourdes Castro and Guillermo Pernot. Post a comment below and tell me about your favorite Cuban recipe or the best Cuban restaurant you’ve been to, or tell me why you’d like to win a copy of this cookbook.
Searing the romaine softens it and adds flavor, and searing the lime halves yields warm, caramelized juice. Try this method some time. It will not disappoint!
Enlist your kids to help you with this feast.
- Get to know Lourdes and learn about her life growing up in Miami and her work in Brooklyn as the Director of the NYU Food Lab, where she teaches food science and nutrition
- How COVID has given Lourdes a richer toolbox with which to teach students via Zoom
- How Cuban family meals revolve around beans, rice, tropical fruits, and fish, but are very “benign” in many ways and not as varied as we might assume
- How traditional Cuban foods are full of sweet, sour, and tangy flavors from a combination of Spanish, African, and Chinese influences
- How Cuban food is MUCH more than rice and beans and Cuban sandwiches
- How Cuban pizza became popular in the 1970s
- How Lourdes’ parents reacted to her visit to their Cuban homeland when she traveled there with her mother
- Lourdes’ recipe for Cuban Rice and Beans starts with garlic, olive oil, onion, and green peppers. Cumin, oregano, and rice are added and sautéed. Canned black beans with their liquid are added with water, and the dish cooks for 45 minutes. For full flavor and color, let the dish sit for about an hour before serving. (Use medium or long-grain rice, and other beans can be substituted.)
- Lourdes’ recipe for Citrus Marinated Chicken starts with a blend of olive oil, garlic, orange juice, lime juice, oregano, cumin, and salt and pepper. Puree in a blender and marinate for 30 minutes or overnight in the refrigerator. Cook the chicken quickly in a skillet for a beautiful caramelization.
- With Citrus Marinated Chicken, Lourdes serves Seared Romaine Hearts sprinkled with seared lime juice and Quick Pickled Onion made by marinating thinly sliced red onion in red wine vinegar
- Kale and salmon would never end up on a Cuban table. So don’t recommend it to Cuban patients who are trying to improve their diets! Instead, look at what the culture the culture (Cuban, for example) and focus on themes like tropical fruit, seafood, portion sizes, cooking methods.
Culinary Nutrition Collaborative (how Liz and Lourdes met)
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