Ropa Vieja – Beef Salad or Spread

ropa vieja

Ropa Vieja (Old Clothes)

Probably German inspired, in my neighborhood we made meat salad with left over roasts and soup meats and we called it “Ropa Vieja” which means “Old Clothes” in Spanish (pronounced Rope-ah Vee-a-ha).  Later, when we lived in Würzburg, Germany, we often had lunch at the Weinstein Restaurant overlooking the city where they offered a great “Fleisch salat”(meat salad in German).  It was never made the same way twice either at the restaurant or in my neighborhood.


Left over  beef

Optional additions:

  1. Pickles
  2. Capers
  3. olives
  4. Raisins
  5. Chopped tomatoes
  6. Chopped green onions
  7. Chopped sweet onion
  8. Minced Garlic
  9. Chopped herbs
  10. Chopped hard-boiled eggs


  1. Make a dressing that has a little body and punch.  Mustard and mayonnaise, sour cream perhaps, olive oil and vinegar, and seasoned with paprika, cayenne pepper, perhaps cumin, ginger, or any other flavors that may inspire.  The dressing needs to be thick and binding.
  2. Shred the roast beef an add the selected additions.  This is “old clothes” and anything goes.  The essential is to use up the meat in a dressed up way another day.
  3. Bind the meat and additions with the dressing and allow to mellow a couple of hours or overnight in the refrigerator to blend the flavors.
  4. Serve over a bed of lettuce or in an artichoke (why not!)

Additional Ideas…

20130704-134418.jpg Something that I do quite often with left over roast beef (here thick slices of roasted eye-of-the-round are cut into cubes) is to toss it into the food processor with pickles-sweet or dill, mayonnaise or mustard, onions or garlic, parsley or cilantro, perhaps capers, or almonds.

I pulse the ingredients several times (always stopping to scrape down the mixture!) and process the ropa vieja to the desired consistencyThe mixture is great processed into the consistency of a patê to spread on crackers or used as a sandwich spread.

This particular mixture had onion, mayonnaise, bread and butter pickle slices, cilantro, and capers.


If I am going to top off a salad, I keep the mixture more coarsely ground.  If I am going to use it as a sandwich spread I process it more and add a bit more mayonnaise to bind it.  I have even used the ropa vieja to stuff small mushrooms and served it as an appetizer.

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