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Slow-cooked taste in just minutes

"Old cloths" is the literal translation of Ropa Vieja, a Cuban dish made with leftover meat or flank steak that has simmered until it falls apart.

For this quick version, I cut the steak into paper thin slices and sauteed it first. Then I added it to the sauce for a few minutes to absorb the sauce flavor. The result gives the feeling and flavors of the traditional long-cooked dish without taking hours to make. Served with a 10-minute rice, this makes a great, quick dinner.

This meal contains a total of 535 calories per serving with 30 percent of calories from fat.

To save time, minced garlic and fresh, sliced onion can be found in the produce section of the supermarket. Prepare the rice while the meat is cooking.

> Pan-fried ropa vieja (flank steak in tomato sauce)

1/2 pound flank steak

Vegetable oil spray

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup sliced onion

1 cup sliced carrots

2 teaspoons minced garlic, crushed

1/2 medium green pepper, sliced (about 1 cup)

1 3/4 cup can whole tomatoes with sauce

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup sliced pimentos in water

Cut meat into paper thin slices. Heat a medium-size nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with vegetable oil spray. Saute meat about 2 minutes. Remove to a plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

In same pan, saute onion and carrots, garlic and green pepper 5 minutes. Lower heat to medium and add whole tomatoes and oregano. Break up whole tomatoes with a spoon as they cook. Simmer 5 minutes. Return meat to the pan. Mix well. Add pimentos, salt and pepper to taste. Cook 1 minute.

Serve over rice. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 315 calories (30 percent from fat), 10.5g fat (3.9g saturated, 4.4g monounsaturated), 40mg cholesterol, 29.1g protein, 28.4g carbohydrates, 7.2g fiber, 138mg sodium.

> Brown rice

1 package microwaveable brown rice

2 teaspoons olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook rice according to package instructions. Measure 1 1/2 cups rice and reserve remaining rice for another meal. Add olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Makes 2 servings.

Per serving: 220 calories (29 percent from fat), 7.1g fat (1.0g saturated, 4.1g monounsaturated), no cholesterol, 3.8g protein, 29.3g carbohydrates, 1.5g fiber, 11mg sodium.

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