Kalyn's Kitchen

Picadillo Lentil Stew with Peppers and Green Olives

This Vegan Picadillo Lentil Stew is a delicious vegan dish with a hint of chocolate and just a touch of spiciness.

PIN Picadillo Lentil Stew to try it later!

Picadillo Lentil Stew with Peppers and Green Olives close-up photo

My nephew Jake has been cooking with me for the blog since 2011, and this Picadillo Lentil Stew with Sweet Bell Peppers and Green Olives is still one of his favorite recipes out of all the recipes we’ve tried together. We first spotted the recipe in The South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook (affiliate link), and I loved the sound of a stew with lentils, sweet bell peppers, green olives, onion, garlic, chile powder and a hint of cocoa powder.

Then when we tried the recipe Jake and I kicked it up a little, adding oregano, some canned tomatoes, a bit of Green Tabasco Sauce (affiliate link) and extra  green olives.  We ate this with a generous shake of green Tobasco, and it made a satisfying meatless dish that we loved from the very first bite.

But truthfully, the photos from 2011 were definitely a bit ugh, so recently I made this again and took new pictures, which show off the recipe a lot better! And this time I added a little bit of green olive juice to the finished stew for even more flavor, plus I had the idea of garnishing the stew with sliced green olives, which probably appeals to all the green olive fans like myself!

What is Picadillo?

The word “picadillo” means to mince, referring to small pieces of meat that usually make up the bulk of this dish. Picadillo is a traditional dish all over Latin America where it’s usually made with beef and includes things like raisins, tomatoes, and olives.  Read more about Picadillo to find out what recipe variations are used in different countries.

What ingredients do you need for this recipe?

  • dried brown or green lentils
  • minced garlic
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • onion
  • red bell pepper
  • ground Ancho chile (affiliate link) powder
  • Dried Oregano (affiliate link)
  • canned tomato sauce
  • canned petite diced tomatoes, not drained
  • cocoa powder
  • granulated Monkfruit Sweetener (affiliate link) or other sweetener of your choice
  • green olives
  • Green Tabasco Sauce (affiliate link), or other Jalapeno hot sauce
  • green olive brine

Picadillo Lentil Stew with Peppers and Green Olives process shots collage

How to Make Picadillo Lentil Stew with Peppers and Green Olives:

(Scroll down for complete recipe including nutritional information.)

  1. Rinse lentils and pick out any broken ones.
  2. Then simmer with garlic, salt, and water until lentils are soft. Drain over a pan to catch the liquid.
  3. While lentils cook, chop the onions, red pepper, and green olives.  
  4. Brown onions in a little olive oil in a pot that’s large enough to hold all the stew.
  5. Add the minced garlic, diced red pepper, ground Ancho chile (affiliate link), and Dried Oregano (affiliate link) and cook a few minutes more.
  6. Then add diced tomatoes with  juice, tomato sauce, cocoa powder, Monkfruit Sweetener (affiliate link), and diced green olives and simmer about 10 minutes.
  7. Add the cooked lentils, 1 cup (or more) of the lentil cooking water and simmer 20-25 minutes on low heat.
  8. Add the Green Tabasco Sauce (affiliate link) and 1-2 T green olive juice and stir.
  9. Serve the stew hot. I loved this with some sliced green olives for garnish, so pretty!
  10. You can top with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream if you don’t care whether it’s vegan. 

Picadillo Lentil Stew with Peppers and Green Olives square thumbnail photo

More Meatless Recipes with Lentils:

Mexican Red Lentil Stew with Lime and Cilantro from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Spiced Lentils and Rice from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen
Bengali Red Dal Curry from Jake from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Lentil Vegetable Soup with Collards from Clean and Delicious with Dani Spies
Spicy Red Lentil and Chickpea Stew from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Weekend Food Prep:

This recipe has been added to a category called Weekend Food Prep  to help you find recipes you can prep or cook on the weekend and eat during the week!

Picadillo Lentil Stew with Peppers and Green Olives close-up photo

Vegan Picadillo Lentil Stew with Peppers and Green Olives

Yield 6 small servings
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

This Picadillo Lentil Stew with Peppers and Green olives is a delicious vegan dish with a hint of chocolate and just a touch of spiciness.


  • 1 1/2 cups dried brown or green lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 4 tsp. minced garlic
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, diced medium
  • 1 T ground chile power (see notes)
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • one 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • one 14.5 oz. can petite diced tomatoes, not drained
  • 2 tsp. cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp. granulated Monkfruit sweetener (see notes)
  • 1 cup diced green olives
  • 1 cup or more lentil cooking water
  • 1 T Green Tabasco Sauce, plus more for serving if desired
  • 2 T green olive brine


  1. Pick over the lentils to remove any that look too dark or too light, rinse the lentils and put them in a medium-sized saucepan.
  2. Add minced garlic, salt, and 6 cups hot water, and bring lentils to  a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to a low simmer and cook uncovered until lentils are soft, about 20-25 minutes.  (If you have old lentils that have been in the pantry a while they make take significantly longer to cook, so try some to see when they’re done.)
  4. When lentils are soft, drain them into a colander placed over a bowl or large measuring cup to catch the liquid.
  5. While lentils cook, chop the onion, bell pepper, and green olives.
  6. Heat oil in a heavy dutch oven type pan that’s large enough to hold all the stew.
  7. Add the onions and saute over medium-high heat until onions are just starting to brown.
  8. Add the minced garlic, diced bell pepper, chile powder, and oregano, and cook 3-4 minutes more.
  9. Add diced tomatoes and juice, tomato sauce, cocoa powder, Monkfruit Sweetener (affiliate link) or sweetener of your choice, and diced green olives and simmer about 10 minutes.
  10. Then add cooked lentils and 1 cup or more of lentil cooking water, and simmer 20-25 minutes more on low heat.
  11. Stir in the Green Tabasco Sauce (affiliate link) and green olive juice as desired.
  12. Serve hot, topped a generous dash of green Tabasco sauce if desired.
  13. If you don’t care about the recipe being vegan, this is also good with Greek yogurt or sour cream.


I used ground Ancho chile (affiliate link) for this recipe, but any flavorful ground red chile or  chili powder will work. I would use Monkfruit Sweetener (affiliate link) for this recipe, but use any no-calorie sweetener you prefer.

Recipe adapted from The South Beach Diet Super Quick Cookbook. (affiliate link)

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 194Total Fat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1200mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 9gSugar: 6gProtein: 8g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

If you make this recipe I'd love to hear how it turns out. Leave a star rating or share on social media with the hashtag #KALYNSKITCHEN, thanks!

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions: 
This Vegan Picadillo Lentil Stew is loaded with  low-glycemic ingredients, and it would be approved for any phase of the South Beach Diet or other low-glycemic diet plans. Remember that serving size is limited for the South Beach Diet Phase One. Lentils are probably too high in carbs for strictly low-carb eating plans.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Stew Recipes to find more recipes like this one. Use the Recipes by Diet Type index pages to find more recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You can also Follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

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    17 Comments on “Picadillo Lentil Stew with Peppers and Green Olives”

  1. Pingback: Vegetarian Lentil Chili: 30 MInute Meal or Slow Cooker Recipe

  2. This turned out fantastic. Thank you!

  3. Leah, glad you liked it. I don't count calories, but I recommend a site called Calorie Count if you want to enter the ingredients. There is a link under FAQ.

  4. Trying to eat less processed & shed about 80 lbs. Loved this recipe. Im going to eat this all week. It made a lot. I didnt have cocoa powder. but it still tasted great. I topped it with avocado.

    Any idea how many calories might be in this recipe? Thanks for sharing

  5. So glad you both enjoyed it!

  6. I pinned this months ago,and just got around to making it today. I was planning on having it for my lunches all next week, but it smelled so delicious that my husband wanted to taste some. Needless to say, it's half gone now!

  7. Just made this now! Yummy!!

  8. Right in the middle of making this, I realized that I didn't have any tomato sauce or canned tomatoes (for some reason I thought I did) But I did have a small can of tomato paste. Added that to a small pot with about 1 cup of water and heated up for about 10 minutes and used that in place of both tomatoes called for in this dish. It came out absolutely wonderful!

  9. I love the brininess that olives add to a Spanish dish like this! I would love to throw in some mango or raisins too.

  10. Picadillo is the name for a Latin dish that's kind of a stew or hash made up of very finely chopped ingredients. It often contains olives, which is why the name is used for this recipe.

  11. This looks like a recipe I will try. Can you tell my what a picadillo is?

  12. We're both thinking along the picadillo line! I just made a shrimp picadillo, but I love this lentil version. The sweet-and-sour flavoring is irresistible.

  13. Sangeeta, glad you like the sound of it!

    Joanne, I thought the touch of cocoa powder was great in this.

  14. Haha Janet and I made the same mango picadillo, but this versions sounds quite delicious also! I love the hint of cocoa powder.

  15. I keep looking for lentil stew/soup ideas as well. We add raw mangoes to our lentil stews sometimes. Bell peppers and olives would be great.

  16. Janet, I think mango would be great in this!

  17. I love lentils and I think I added mango when I made my lentil picadillo. Super delicious. 🙂