Pastelón de amarillos/plátano maduro (Puerto Rican lasagne, with ripe plantains!)

2 Apr

I have been ripening this recipe for weeks. No kidding.

I bought a bunch of plantains on sale (15 for $2) at a Caribbean grocery store three weeks ago, made tostones with some and then let the last 6 get black on my counter. Black, I tell you. Not just mottled yellow, but black and withered, while my son looked on with occasional science experiment interest, sort of a Peter Greenaway film of disintegration but not quite as exquisitely grotesque and not with the speedy convenience of time-lapse photography.

I find already ripened amarillos (yellow plantains)  in my regular white-people supermarket (I hate saying non-ethnic, because white people are ethnic too!), but Latin supermarkets are your safest bet.

Pastelón is the Puerto Rican answer to lasagne – or maybe shepherd’s pie – but sweeter, spicier, meatier – all around naughtier. If you love a dish that has balance while being excessive, this is the meal for you!

I had the Seasoned Ground Beef frozen in a pint container and so it was fast and easy — just added a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste while it simmered and piled everything together. Just so you know, Leandro took the top off and only ate the meaty insides; the sweet vs. meat thing is not for everyone. But it is definitely FOR ME.

If you would like to try a pastelon with yuca, Click here!

Pastelón de Amarillos


6-7 extremely ripe plantains (they should be more black than yellow or green)

1 tsp salt

Water to cover

1 Tbs butter (plus butter for greasing the baking dish)


1 pt Seasoned Ground Beef (about 1.5 lbs) recipe also below plus 2 Tbs tomato paste

½ Cup grated cheese: parmigiano reggiano or grana padano or mozzarella preferred

Preheat oven to 350. Slice off the top and tail of the plantains. Make a slit down the side, then cut in half. Place in water to cover, with salt, then bring to a boil and then cook for 10-15 minutes (until very soft). Drain, peel and mash with 1 Tbs butter until smooth.

Grease an 8×8 oven dish. Line the bottom with half the plaintain mash, smoothing to cover evenly. Sprinkle with half the grated cheese. Layer the meat on top. Then layer the remaining plantain, smoothing to cover. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and place in 350 oven until cheese is melted, 10-15 minutes.

Allow to cook for ten minutes and then slice and serve.


(this is half of what I usually do to freeze. To do 3 lbs. at a time, double everything)

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 baseball sized onion, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, minced (go for more if you like – I do!)

1.5 lbs. ground beef

(Optional1/4-1/2 C. chopped red pepper fresh or roasted from a jar)

1/2 tsp adobo powder* (if desired – I generally don’t use it, but some people love the extra salt and the umami)

1 heaping Tbs capers, drained

10 manzanilla olives (pitted and stuffed with pimientos)

(optional 1/2 cup tomatoes from a can – diced, chopped, whatever or a spoonful of tomato paste you need to use up)

Heat oil on high in a large saucepan until thin and fragrant. Add onion and cook, stirring, for two minutes until well coated and getting translucent. Lower heat to fairly low and cook for five minutes, add garlic and cook for another minute. Raise heat to high and crumble in ground beef, stirring and breaking up frequently until fully-browned. Spoon out fat or pour off (don’t make it too dry!) into sink (carefully!).

Return to heat, add red pepper, optional adobo, capers, olives and optional tomato. Mix completely. Lower heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes until fat begins to separate from sauce. Serve or freeze.

 *instead of adobo powder, mix 1/4 tsp salt and 1 Tbs mixed chopped fresh herbs (oregano, rosemary, parsley) or 1 tsp dried

18 Responses to “Pastelón de amarillos/plátano maduro (Puerto Rican lasagne, with ripe plantains!)”

  1. Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy December 21, 2013 at 12:44 am #

    Reblogged this on Hot, Cheap & Easy and commented:

    Note to readers: this is a re-blog of a top ten most searched-for posts….A wonderful surprise for the holidays!

  2. Suzanne Douglass April 28, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    My ex mother-in-law (Puerto Rican) made this using fried ripe plaintain strips and covered the layered mixture with beaten eggs to form like a custard that made cutting easier. Yummy!!!

    Also, we cooked using a rice (arroz pullito???) that was shorter and thicker than typical white long grain rice, although not as thick as risotto. Or is my memory failing me? It’s been 30+ years since I lived in PR.

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy April 28, 2013 at 5:10 pm #

      I am not sure about the term “pullido” but most Puerto Rican cooks will use medium-grain (grano mediano) rice most of the time. When making arroz con pollo the chefs I know prefer short-grain rice (grano corto). Goya’s medium grain is good and readily available here in NY. Sort grain rice is harder to find and I usually bring a couple of pounds of it when coming back from the island! Thanks for visiting!

      • Suzanne Douglass April 29, 2013 at 9:27 am #

        Thanks for the info on the rice. My memory wasn’t failing me! (On this, at least….) Unfortunately, I am now in North Carolina, where “criolla” fixings are not so readily available (another reason I miss NYC). I’ll try another “international market” locally to see if I can find mediano or corto – otherwise it’s a Web quest, I guess.

        I used to like Higado con Cebolla, prepared much like the way Bistec is made. But then I like liver anyway, which makes some folks choke.

        Keep up the good work!

  3. Chica Andaluza May 26, 2012 at 1:40 am #

    THis is a new one to me (I am playing catch up on posts as you can see!) . I have never cooked with plantains, maybe it´s time I did!

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy May 26, 2012 at 5:01 am #

      Oh you should! I don’t know how available they are by you…the Spanish only have one word for all banana/plantain fruits, if I remember correctly. In Puerto Rico, we have dozens!

  4. kathryningrid April 9, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

    This sounds insanely delicious, and a great alternative to the ‘cousin’ dishes you mentioned. Your description alone would sell it to me as over-the-top in a perfect way, but then you put those photos in and . . . oh, boy! Sold!

  5. Bluejellybeans April 3, 2012 at 4:53 pm #

    Qué rico Natalia!
    Nunca he probado este plato, pero tiene una pinta buenísima… Me parece que muy pronto tomaremos pastelón en casa ;)

  6. twbarritt April 3, 2012 at 10:21 am #

    Love, Love, Love, different versions of lasagna! I am so intrigued by the idea of layering plantains with spicy meat!

  7. Mad Dog April 3, 2012 at 6:28 am #

    I suspect it would be too sweet for me, but it’s very interesting to learn about plantains nevertheless ;-)
    That film was great – A Zed and Two Noughts!

  8. Adriana Waterston April 2, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    Pastelon is one of my faves and i am sure yours is great! Bring me some leftovers if there are any left on Thursday!


  1. The Tropi-Cool Cuisine of Puerto Rico By Natalia de Cuba Romero | Travel Blogging with Vacations-Abroad - March 20, 2014

    […] The other is pastelón de amarillos/plátanos , a savory meat and sweet plantain lasagna-style casserole that epitomizes what our food is about. […]

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    […] 3. Pastelón de Amarillos […]

  3. Pastelón de Yuca (Puerto Rican Shepherd’s Pie) « Hot, Cheap & Easy - September 12, 2012

    […] top time) and it is a warming dish that will take everyone to their happy place. Click here for Pastelón de Platanos – Plantain Pastelón – another classic version of this dish). The more beef you use, the thicker it will be. You […]

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