Pastelón de Platano Maduro: Dominican Lasagna

Usually when I think of casseroles, I think of things like tuna, mayonnaise, cream of mushroom/chicken/celery/Satan soup… I can’t say I’ve ever heard the word “casserole” and thought “yum.”

(I probably just offended the entire Midwest and everyone who has ever been to a church picnic- my apologies.)

But every once in a while I’m reminded that there really are delicious dishes out there that are technically casseroles: Palestinian maqloubeh, Ashkenazi kugel, and this beauty known as pastelón. This is essentially Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic’s upgrade of lasagna; with alternating layers of ripe plantain, creamy cashew cheese and a lentil-walnut “ground beef” filling sautéed with onions, garlic and tomato sauce, it’s the ultimate combination of sweet and savory.

pastelon 1

Important note: there are two ways you can prepare the plantains: boiled and mashed or cut into thin strips and pan-fried. The mashed version gets spread into the pan in layers and the pan-fried version gets layered into the pan like lasagna noodles. It’s up to your preference.

Pastelon (Puerto Rican Lasagna)
photo from http://thenoshery.com/pastelon-sweet-plaintain-lasagna/
Masa-para-juju
photo from http://www.mycolombianrecipes.com/juju-green-plantain-and-cheese-balls

Yield: 7-9 servings

For the filling:

  • 1.5 cup raw walnuts, soaked for at least 2 hours or overnight, drained
  • 1.5 cup uncooked green or brown lentils
  • 3 cups water+ bouillon (I highly recommend this stuff and this stuff, both of which you can both find in many grocery stores) or 3 cups veggie broth
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 2.5 cups tomato sauce (from a jar is fine)
  • 1/3 cup sliced black olives (optional)

For the cashew cheese*:

  • 2 cups raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours or overnight, drained
  • juice of one large lemon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the plantains:

  • 6 ripe plantains
  • If pan-frying: Canola, soybean, vegetable or refined coconut oil
  • If mashing: 3 Tbsp vegan butter (Earth Balance, Miyoko’s, etc.) or olive oil
  • If mashing: 1 tsp salt for boiling
  • If mashing: Water for boiling

To garnish:

  • Chopped cilantro

 

  1. Cook your lentils. Throw the lentils into a covered pot on high heat with in 3 cups of broth or water with bouillon. Once the water is boiling, reduce the heat to medium and cook for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender but not mushy. Set aside to cool
  2. If mashing your plantains: peel them, chop them into large chunks and place them into a large pot of boiling water with 1tsp salt. Allow them to boil until they’re very soft and mash-able. Drain, mash in a large bowl with butter and 1tsp salt platano 2
  3. If pan-frying your plantains: Heat a large skillet or a griddle to medium-high. Peel your plantains, slice them in half and then into long, thin strips. Coat your skillet/griddle with a thin layer of oil and fry until they just begin to brown. Flip and repeat on the other side, adding a little more oil if necessary
  4. Make your cashew cheese: blend cashews, salt, water, lemon juice and olive oil in a blender or with an immersion blender. If you have a Vitamix, you may not need to add all that water, but if you have a mediocre blender you may need more water in order to get a smooth consistency
  5. In a food processor, pulse your walnuts until broken up into crumbles. Add your lentils and pulse until broken into crumbles as well
  6. Make your filling: Saute your onions like so until they’re golden-brown, then add your garlic. Once your garlic just begins to turn golden, add your bell peppers and saute until soft. Add the lentils, walnuts, tomato sauce, raisins, olives (optional) and mix thoroughly
  7. Grease a 9×13 casserole dish and preheat your oven to 375 (350 if your oven runs hot and/or you’re at lower altitude)
  8. Layer everything: Spread or layer a third of your plantains on the bottom of your pan. Cover with a third of the filling mixture. Spread or layer another third of your plantains on top of the filling, followed by half of your cashew cheese and another layer of filling. Add your final layer of plantains and top with the rest of your cashew cheese. Bake until golden-brown on top
  9. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve

*If you want a shortcut, you can use a storebought vegan cheese like Miyoko’s, Treeline, Kite Hill or Chao. Just don’t use Daiya because it will ruin your food.

pastelon 3

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