YIELD: Serves 6 | ACTIVE TIME: 40 minutes | INACTIVE TIME: 15 minutes | DISH TYPE: Vegetarian
In Dominican culture whenever anyone drops in during a mealtime we say ¡a buen tiempo! (meaning the person has arrived just in time), we serve an extra plate, and invite them to join us. Food is a family/community affair.
Dominican food is traditionally meat heavy. Personally I love it that way, but when my mother decided to become a vegetarian she stopped being able to eat a lot of the foods she and I had grown up eating. One of those dishes—pastelón de plátano maduro— is my all time favorite Dominican dish. A cross between a shepherd’s pie and lasagna, pastelón combines sweet, ripe plantains with savory ground meat and melted cheese. Mmmm! I developed this vegetarian version that’s almost as good as the original (all it’s missing is some beautifully browned ground pork).
It’s not quite how Abuela makes it but its still buenísimo, so this is para ti, Mamá, and for the rest of you:
¡A buen tiempo!
- I used broccoli, carrots, and peppers in this recipe 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. I like to use the stalks and leafy bits of the broccoli but you can discard these if you don’t like them. EDIT: Two chef friends have weighed in with their advice as well! Chef Diamond suggests using kale and chickpeas while Chef Josue García suggests using grated cauliflower which he says with the right TLC can have the same flavor profile as my beloved pork!
- You can use any kind of cheese you like; cheddar and Swiss work the best but your favorite grated cheese would work just fine.
- 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.
- 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 (vegetarian version)
- 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. Serve your pastelón with a salad of avocado, tomato, diced red onion, and a drizzle of olive oil over some spicy, mustard greens for a perfect meal!
Bon Apétit, or as we say in the Dominican Republic: ¡Buen Provecho!
The sun set so we didn’t have as much light for this photo but we couldn’t not show you the final product!