It’s amazing what you can do with plantains. I actually made a plantain lasagna with a korma sauce twist years ago, not knowing this was a popular Puerto Rican dish called pastelón de plátano Maduro. At the time, I found two overly ripe plantains in the fridge, went with the flow and literally added ingredients as I went along. My family really enjoyed this, especially my brother as he came back for a second plate.
ARE THERE DIFFERENT WAYS TO MAKE PASTELÓN?
A traditional pastelón is normally made with fried plantain but you can still enjoy plantains without frying all the time. Over the years, I made sweet plantain lasagna with fried plantain (my personal favourite), grilled plantain and boiled plantain. The variation to this dish are endless but I decided to switch things up and make a healthier version by grilling the plantains and incorporating vegetables like carrots and spinach into this recipe. It’s made with layers of grilled plantain, followed by a tomato-based minced beef sauce, mozzarella cheese and spinach. This dish is amazing because it’s a great balance of sweet plantains and savoury ingredients. If you are a lover of plantains, this recipe is for you!
USEFUL KITCHEN TOOLS
Here are a few key basic kitchen tools you will need to make this recipe:
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- 4 Ripe plantains
- 1 Tbsp Olive oil
- 1 Red onion
- 1 Tbsp Tomato puree
- 750g Minced beef
- 1 Red bell pepper
- 2-3 Chillies
- 2 Carrots (optional)
- 1 Tbsp All-purpose
- 1 Tbsp thyme
- 2 Maggi cubes
- 2 Large garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 Tbsp Paprika
- 1 Can of chopped tomatoes (400g)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 250g Mozzarella cheese, shredded
- 40g Spinach (Optional)
- 3 Small eggs
What You'll Need:
- Preheat the oven to 180ºc and lightly grease a 26.5 x 19cm casserole dish with oil or butter.
- Plantain Preparation: Cut both ends of the plantains, then use the tip of your knife to make a slit all the way down the plantain to peel the skin off. Slice the plantain lengthwise into thin slices (about 0.5 cm thickness). *Tip: I would recommend that you use a mandolin slicer to ensure that you have evenly sliced plantain.
- Line baking sheets with foil and coat with oil or cooking spray and place plantain slices on the tray. Place in the oven and let it grill for 20 minutes, flipping the plantains to the other side halfway.
- Finely chop an onion, red bell pepper, chillies and carrots.
- To make the meat filling: Heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add onions and a tablespoon of tomato puree, stirring for 2 minutes, minced beef and cook until nicely brown and crispy for about 8 to 10 minutes. Season the minced beef with a Maggi cube, salt and pepper. Add the bell pepper, grated carrots and chillies and cook, stirring from time to time for about 2 minutes.
- Add chopped tomatoes and all seasonings to the saucepan. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook.
- To assemble the pastelón: Start by arranging a layer of plantains at the bottom, ensuring the slices of plantain are arranged so that they completely cover the bottom of the dish.
- Next, top your layer of plantains with about half the beef mixture, then sprinkle a handful of cheese on top. This is followed by one layer of spinach.
- Repeat with the second layer of plantain, topped with the rest of the beef mixture, a handful of cheese and a final layer of plantain slices.
- In a bowl, whisk 3 eggs (you may wish to add a dash of salt and pepper) and pour over the top of the pastelón.
- Allow the eggs to soak into the pastelón for a minute and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
- Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and eggs are cooked.
- Serve with a mix leaf salad.
- Use ripe plantains – yellow plantains, with some dark brown spots, are medium ripped. The darker the plantain, the riper it is, resulting in a sweeter taste. You can leave the plantains for a day or two to have more dark spots.
- Traditional pastelón is made with fried plantain. I have made several variations of pastelón with fried, boiled or grilled plantains and all versions taste just as great.
- Maggi cubes: can be substituted with any chicken or beef stock seasoning like Knorr cubes for example.
- Minced beef: Turkey mince, chicken or beans can alternatively be used..