Recipe: Vegetarian Pastelón

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It’s Harvest Time at Taino Organic Farm! Twice a week the eXtreme team gets their hands on a whole bunch of fresh, organic greens and veggies to cook up or eat raw at the hotel!

The latest harvest brought us a beautiful basket of tomatoes; avocados; cilantro; plátanos; peppers; and leafy, spicy greens. I love cooking for and sharing Dominican food with my fellow eXtremers so I decided to challenge myself by making a traditional Dominican dish using mostly the food we had harvested and little else. Dominican food is traditionally meat heavy so it was a bit of a challenge but I finally decided on one of my favorite dishes—pastelón de plátano maduro. A cross between a shepherd’s pie and lasagna, pastelón combines sweet, ripe plantains with savory ground meat and melted cheese. Mmmm! This is a vegetarian version I put together on the fly using some veggies we had on hand. It’s not quite how my Abuela makes it, but it’s still pretty good!

VEGETARIAN PASTELÓN

serves 6

10 ripe, yellow plantains
1 small head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 medium sized carrot, julienned
1½ medium sized green peppers, julienned
1 small cubanelle pepper, diced
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 small white onion, minced
1½ chicken bouillon cubes, crushed
12 slices of cheddar cheese
¾ of a stick of butter
a healthy fistful of cilantro
a healthy pinch of dried oregano
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Peel and cut plantains into chunks. Fill a large saucepan with water, a pinch of salt, and put over high heat. Add the plantain chunks to the water and bring to a boil.

In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt a small pat of butter and a small drizzle of olive oil. Sauté the oregano, cilantro, chicken bouillon cubes, onions, and garlic for one minute until the onions become semitransparent. Add carrots, broccoli, and peppers and sauté for ten to twelve minutes. Lower the flame and cover with a loosely fitting lid for five minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

When the plantains have turned a golden yellow color and are easily pierced by a fork (approx. 25-30 mins), drain the saucepan and reserve a quarter cup of the cooking liquid. In a bowl combine the plantains, the cooking liquid, and the remaining butter and mash until the plantains are a soft, consistent texture.

In a baking pan, spoon half of the mashed plantains and spread it into a thick, uniform layer. Spoon the veggies onto the layer of plantains and spread. Cover in six slices of cheese. Spoon the second half of the plantains and spread evenly. Cover the pastelón with the last six pieces of cheese.

Set your oven to broil and put the pastelón in for five minutes or until the cheese on top has melted.

We suggest you serve your pastelón with a salad of avocado, tomato, diced red onion, and a drizzle of olive oil over some spicy, mustard greens just like we did!

Bon Apétit, or as we say in the Dominican Republic: ¡Buen Provecho!

 

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Notes:

-We used broccoli and carrots but you can use cherry tomatoes, corn, or any veggies that don’t release too much liquid or your pastelón will bubble up around the edges.
-We also used the stalks and leafy bits of the broccoli but you can discard these if you don’t like them.
-You can use any kind of cheese you like; we especially like cheddar and Swiss but a bag of grated cheese works, too!
-For a healthier version, nix the butter and chicken bouillon cubes and replace with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt.