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


19 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!

    • Natalia at Hot, Cheap & Easy April 2, 2012 at 9:21 pm #

      Will do, baby! I will save you a slice!

      • Shawn Greenfield January 14, 2016 at 11:31 pm #

        lol..i useto love it when my dominicana x’s lil brother would say “the white people”…heh…some of my puerto ricania x’s said it too and just other lil sayings that i found cute.yea im born and raised in NYC too and u can tell the difference between different latinos by diff. slang in their speech..especially islander latinos..all types of diff. slang just like english speaking americans have all different slang borrowed words..and when latinas in nueva york speak english or almost spanglish they say funny NYC P.R OR DOMINICAN ENGLISH/SPANGLISH SLANG THEY EVEN HAVE..heh…like..”what are they given on tv tonite”..lets break night”..”put the clothes to wash”..”its brick out here” as in cold..ny thing..damn its been awhile im forgetting the rest…oh “porneo” instead of porno..yea i was into latinas big time in NY..i dated a few pr’s.2 dominicanas,a colombiana,a perubian when we were young like 17..but those dominican girls develop bodies too young lol..and dominicans and pr’s did not get along much..the diff. slang i know were things like for puerto ricans to say “tre pah pallo” if u aint pr other latinos dont know what it means..heh..”cocollo” dominican more then puerto rican slang…”bochinche or bochincherra” pr slang for drama or talkin shit/back stabbin” and different words for the good crunchy rice at the bottom of the’s say “pegow” dominicans say “con con”..”teycato” both use as slang for junky/heroin addict…”crac ckero” both say for crack’s say for heroin “monteca” or “monteyquiya” like butter.. “pedico” for cocaine..yayo..coca..also its funny how u said “the white people store” when your white yaself with blonde hair and blue eyes and white white skin…blanquita… slang for white girl..blanquito for white boy..indio for indian tan skin color and when i said “tre pah pallo” pr slang for nigger or tree hopper”…”cocollo” more of dominican slang for nigger..a lil different then just moreno or morenita for black girl or black guy..heh…and cocollo is a little black bug..sorry my post wasnt really about food but i was just writing in a post on that on facebook to a pr female i know down here where i live now..shes from jersey..and we both talk about how this place we live at now is whack cuz theres no diff. ethnic people here except white and black and a few mexicans..thats it…so if ya want culture here u better go to the store and buy some yogurt..heh..and no real spanish resteraunts or even bodegas to get some pr or dominican food cooked if u wanted even..only mexican resteraunts..and i try and tell these people mexican food aint nothin compared to latino islander food like pr and dominican….and u cant find any spanish food to cook in the supermarkets ETHNIC isles barely…lol…except the isle that says “CRACKERS” but thats only white people they have some goya isles and platanos/plantains…but i cannot find the queso de frier blanco frying cheese in the blue package made by tropical brand anywhere!!!and i got addicted to that fried cheese on and egg sangwhich <–another pr new york way to say sandwhich i almost 4got lol..but serious my dominican x got me hooked to those..i even learned to cook them myself….and i learned how to cook arroz amarillo habichuelas and platano madurro and tostones which is pr slang for unripe platano..i like baccalo and baccalaito (fried orange like)..her mother told me never ever put salt on baccalo..which just cod fish really…salty as hell…one time my dominican x took me to the store and got this root lookin thing she thought i would like as a switch up cuz im a pescatarian (dont eat any meat or poultry but i do eat all and any sea food since i was 12)..anyway it was yucca….she said it would taste kinda potato like…it was aight…i cAn cook some italian food too..and with shrimp..all types of shrimp dishes…even in yellow rice sauted shrimp on top of arroz amarillo…with a lil sauce..good stuff..easy cook..u should try that one..peace blanquita….hehe..


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    […] 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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