My friend Veronica recently introduced me to Pastelon, a Puerto Rican casserole that completely blew me away. I had never heard of Pastelon before, nor could I pronounce it. But the first bite I took, I was hooked! It was a revelation on two levels! First it was so comforty, and savory, and salty and slightly sweet. Secondly it gave me a use for real, fresh plantains! I have never known what to do with them, and have always overlooked them in the grocery stores. No longer. What a fabulous “new” way to eat my meat and veggies.
It’s a lot like lasagna in preparation and form, but not in flavor.
6-8 large very ripe plantains: peeled, sliced, and browned under the broiler. ***
2 lbs ground meat
(I prefer beef.)
1 cup sofrito
(aren’t you glad you have it on hand all the time now?)
1 small can tomato sauce
2 tsp salt
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 cup green sliced olives (I like Goya brand Salad Olives)
2 cans french-style green beans, drained
2 cups shredded monterey jack cheese (optional)
For the meat mixture, cook ground beef and sofrito in a few tbsp oil until browned, sprinkle with the spices and salt. Stir in tomato sauce and combine. Take off heat and add the green olives. Set aside.
Once your plantains are prepared (see below), you will be ready to put it all together. Prepare a 9×13 baking dish with coconut oil. Layer the casserole: plantains, followed with some of the meat mixture, then green beans then cheese. I was able to make about 2 1/2 layers, with the last layer ending with the rest of the meat and cheese. Bake at 350º for about 45-55min.
Enjoy! And share with someone in need:)
Leigh (via Roni!)
***The “noodles” are sliced plantains. They must be extremely ripe so that they aren’t bitter. Their peel will be spotty-black.
You may have to use a knife and cut through the peel lengthwise to get them started–they do not peel as easily as bananas. Once they are all peeled, slice them evenly into long strips. Consider using a cheese slicer, mandoline, or a really steady hand and a good knife.
Arrange them evenly on a lightly-oiled cookie sheet. (I took coconut oil and a paper towel, and spread the oil around the sheet evenly. ) Roast under the broiler until browned on one side, then flip them and brown on the other side. The roasted sliced plantains are now ready for layering!
If you don’t use plantains, you can substitute diced and roasted (or mashed) sweet potatoes. It will be sweeter, but a faster process on a night you are in a rush. If you do this, you can skip the casserole step altogether. Just make a “pastelon bowl” by heaping the meat and green bean mixture directly over a yummy bowl of sweet potatoes. It is much faster to whip up, and almost the same flavor.