Cuban Black Bean Shakshuka

Cuban inspired version of this one-skillet dish with black beans and sofrito. Shakshuka is a savory Israeli breakfast of poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce with peppers and onions seasoned with cumin and paprika. Shakshuka is traditionally served with bread or pita on the side and some fresh parsley sprinkled on top. Cuban black bean shakshuka with goat cheese and cilantro is my take on the traditional dish.

The shakshuka black bean sauce came together easily in the skillet with red and green bell peppers, cumin, ground oregano, and plenty of spicy garlic. The aromas of sofrito are a classic Cuban cooking scent and the holy grail for most of our recipes. The scent quickly filled my small apartment and warmed up the cold winter morning.

I added extra tomato sauce to my black beans and vegetable stock to make them saucier than normal. Once the sauce simmered for 15 minutes I made little nests for the eggs and cracked them into the bubbling black beans before baking in a hot oven for 10 minutes. I topped my Cuban black bean shakshuka with globs of goat cheese and fresh cilantro with warm thick-sliced toast on the side. This black bean shakshuka is a great spin on the classic Mediterranean breakfast and perfect for brunch and entertaining.

Cuban Black Bean Shakshuka

  • 1 can low-sodium black beans
  • 1 8 ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 red bell pepper julienne
  • 1/2 green bell pepper julienne
  • 1 Spanish onion julienne
  • 3 cloves of garlic julienne
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt (easy on the salt since the Goya packet has sodium) and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water
  • 1 packet Sazon Goya Sin Achiote (without Annatto)
  • Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 4-5 eggs
  • Goat cheese crumbles for garnish
  • Fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

Serve with warm, toasted Cuban bread, lime, and sliced avocado or sliced banana on the side.

Preheat your oven to 400F. Dice or julienne your onions, both bell peppers, and garlic for the sofrito. Add olive oil to a hot cast-iron skillet and sautee until translucent. Add the garlic. Next add the tomato sauce and let simmer and bubble for a few minutes on low to medium heat. Add the cumin, oregano, bay leaf, salt, pepper, and sazon goya seasoning packet. Stir well and add the can of undrained black beans. Stir and add a half cup of vegetable stock, chicken stock, or water. Let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes.

Make little indentations in the sauce to crack the eggs into. Once you have cracked the eggs into the black bean sauce bake the Cuban black bean shakshuka in the oven until the eggs are set to your liking, about 7 to 10 minutes. I like my eggs to be on the runny side so I put then in the oven for 8 minutes. Enjoy this black bean shakshuka with warm toasty Cuban bread and sliced avocado or even some banana. This one-skillet dish can be made easily for brunch or with left over black beans. Enjoy!


Yuca Hervida ~ Cuban Boiled Yuca

Yuca hervida is a Cuban side dish that can be enjoyed with any meal but especially at Noche Buena dinner, a Cuban Christmas Eve tradition. Fried, mashed, or boiled, yuca is soft and supple when cooked. For yuca hervida the starchy root vegetable is boiled to tender perfection and prepared with a generous garlicky mojo. Although red onions make for a more beautiful yuca hervida, my family makes yuca hervida with white onions. Despite its dull appearance with the white onion and garlic mojo, yuca hervida is full of flavor and is a classic Cuban comfort food.

Yuca is my favorite stubborn, sticky starch. Hard to cut and covered in skin, yuca takes a bit of time, love and prep to get ready for boiling. I typically purchase frozen yuca, which is already peeled and divided, and tastes just the same. Apparently the layer between the woody brown skin of the yuca root and the tube can be poisonous, I recently learned this so you should wash the yuca well and cook thoroughly. Boiled yuca is the starting point for many Cuban dishes and I have made this recipe many times, and I love the gummy, carby bite of boiled yuca.

Yuca Hervida ~ Cuban Boiled Yuca

  • 2 lbs yuca peeled cut in quarters (fresh or frozen)
  • Juice of 1 sour orange or lime
  • 1 thinly sliced onion onion
  • Salt
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • Crushed chicharron optional

Cover the yuca in water and add the the juice of half a lime and salt. Boil until the yucca is fork tender about 20 minutes. When the yuca is fork tender drain the water and let cool slightly. Remove the tough center fiber from the yuca chunks. It will easily come out of the yuca once it is cooked. The yuca will be very sticky.

While the yuca is cooking begin making the mojo. Mash the garlic cloves with a mortar and pestle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a teaspoon of salt. Set aside.

Heat olive oil on low heat in a frying pan, add the onion and sauté slightly. The onions are best on the raw side, and really add a lot of emphasis to the flavor of the yuca hervida. Set the onions aside.

Add the mashed garlic cloves to the pan and stir. Add the juice of the rest of the sour orange juice to the pan. Sauté the yuca hervida for two to three more minutes. Gently add the yuca to the pan and toss in the garlic mojo 5 minutes making sure to evenly coat the yuca in the mojo.

*I have had yuca hervida with red onion instead of white onion and prefer the look although this is more traditional for the Dominican Republic.

**Crushed chicharron (or pork cracklins) garnish is great for added texture on the Cuban boiled yuca.

Cuban Vaca Frita


Vaca frita’s crisp deliciousness is most transcendent when you get off a flight at MIA and rush over to Versailles to welcome your palate back home. Whenever I go back to Miami I have my mandatory must-haves, and vaca frita is one of them- like croquetas, pan tostada with café con leche, Publix subs, pastelitos, Pollo Tropical, and if I’m lucky Mary’s Coin and Laundry Pan Cubanos.


Vaca frita is tender shredded flank steak marinated with garlicky mojo and fried crisp with white onion. Garnished with a squeeze lime it is best enjoyed with los tres amigos- friojles negros, arroz blanco, y platano maduros. Vaca frita is a Cuban classic that is one of my favorites. This is a dish I most often order out and rarely have cooked at home.


When I was cooking this vaca frita recipe I realized hadn’t made this not even once since I last cooked it with my abuela. Sometimes I feel like I am stumbling through the steps with vague memories and recipe doubt, but this vaca frita was seriously perfection. Crispy. Flavorful. Home.

vaca frita picture perfect

Vaca Frita

For the steak:

  • 5-2 lbs flank steak (falda)
  • 1 large onion cut lengthwise, reserve half
  • ½ green bell pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1-2 bay leaves (hoja de laurel)
  • Enough water to cover the steak
  • ¼ c dry white cooking wine (vino seco)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil for frying

For the mojo:

  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice of one lime

To serve:

  • Lime wedges
  • White rice, black beans, and platano maduros

Rinse the flank steak and add it to a heavy pot. Add half of the onion, half a green bell pepper cut in large chunks, 2 whole garlic cloves, and 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp oregano, 1 tsp cumin, the bay leaves, and freshly cracked black pepper.


Cover with the flank steak with water. Bring the water to a boil then turn the heat down to a low simmer and cook for 2 to 2.5 hours uncovered. Add water if needed (I didn’t) to avoid the pot from burning. DO NOT cover the pot while the flank steak is cooking and be sure to stir every once in a while so nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.

While the flank steak is cooking away make the mojo. Mash the 4 garlic cloves with 1 tsp salt and 2 tbsp olive oil with a mortar and pestle. Add the juice of one lime and mash a little more. Set aside.


Remove the flank steak from the cooking liquid and shred with two forks while hot. Discard the onion and garlic, and keep the bell pepper. Remove the thin skin off the green bell pepper and mash it while hot. Mix the mashed green bell pepper with the shredded beef and add the mojo. Let it sit and marinate for a few minutes while you prepare the onions. Take this time to start cooking the white rice.


Slice the other half of the onion. Sautee the sliced onions in 2 tbsp olive oil until slightly tender. Remove the onions from the oil and mix in with the mojo-marinating shredded flank steak. Add a little more oil to the pan as needed and get nice and hot. Seriously if your pan doesn’t start out hot the meat will just steam instead of getting crispy. Flatten the shredded beef out to cover the bottom of the pan so all of it can get nice and crisped. Cook the vaca frita about 5 to 6 minutes on each side. Squeeze lime and sprinkle a little salt before serving the vaca frita. Enjoy vaca frita with white rice, black beans, and a lime wedge on the side.