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Blue moasaic plate with Healthier Pastelón serving on it. White bowl of salad in top left corner.
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Healthier Pastelón (Puerto Rican Sweet Plantain "Lasagna")

A savory ground turkey picadillo is layered with sweet, mashed plantains, and shredded, no-fat cheese. Make-ahead and freezer-friendly.
Course dinner, Entree, Mains
Cuisine Puerto Rican/Hispanic
Keyword pastelón, picadillo, piñon, plantains
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8
Calories 375kcal

Equipment

  • potato masher

Ingredients

For the Turkey Picadillo

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2-2 pounds lean ground turkey
  • 2 teaspoons sazón
  • 1 teaspoon adobo
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup (1/2 medium) green bell pepper small diced
  • 1 cup (1 small) white onion small diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1 cup (1- 8 ounce can) no-salt added tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup sofrito
  • 6 olives sliced
  • 1 teaspoon capers
  • 1 bay leaf optional

For the Pastelón

  • 6 large ripe plantains peeled and sliced into 1" chunks
  • 8 ounces no-fat mozzarella cheese shredded
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon baking soda

Instructions

Prepare the Turkey Picadillo (may be done a day ahead)

  • In a 3 quart caldero or dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat.
    Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the ground turkey. Sprinkle the adobo, sazón, and black pepper evenly over the meat to season it.
  • Use a spoon to break up the meat and cook the ground turkey for 4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the meat is brown and the juices run clear. 
    Once the meat is browned, drain all but a tablespoon of the fat from the pot. 
  • Stir the green bell pepper, onion, garlic, and oregano into the pot with the seasoned meat. Sauté these together for 2-3 minutes, or until the veggies begin to look glossy and start to brown slightly. 
    Next, stir the tomato sauce, olives, capers, and sofrito into the meat mixture in the pot. Allow the liquid in the mixture come to a simmer, then reduce the heat to low. Allow the picadillo to gently simmer, uncovered, for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Once the picadillo is thick and only a smidge runny, remove it from the heat and allow it to cool slightly. 

Prepare the Mashed Plantains* While the Picadillo Cools

  • After peeling your yellow plantains, use a knife to slice them into 1" thick rounds.
    In a pot or mixing bowl, use a potato masher or a sturdy fork to mash the plantains smooth. The plantains should look like mashed potatoes.
  • Create a pre-formed layer of the mashed plantains to use as the second layer of the pastelón: line the bottom of the baking dish with a sheet of plastic wrap that is lightly greased.
    Arrange the layer of mashed plantains in the bottom of the dish, smoothing it out evenly with an off-set spatula or spoon. Press firmly so the plantain layer is compacted, then carefully lift out the plastic wrap. You'll now have a perfect layer to use as you assemble your pastelón.
  • Once the second layer is formed and removed, use the rest of the mash to form the bottom layer in the pan. 

Whisk the Egg-Soda Binder

  • In a small mixing bowl vigorously beat the eggs and baking soda together.
    Set this aside while you begin assembling the pastelón.

Assemble the Pastelón

  • Preheat your oven to 350°F.
    Begin assembling your pastelón by spreading half of the ground turkey picadillo on the layer of mashed plantains you smoothed out earlier.
    Top the picadillo with a cup of the shredded mozz. 
  • Nestle the pre-formed (second) layer of mashed plantains onto the cheese layer. If it breaks apart while you're arranging it on the picadillo, that's okay. Just smush it together as best you can.
    Cover this second layer with the last of the picadillo
  • Using the same paring knife that you cut the plantains with, stab the pastelón in a few spots. This helps the egg mixture get down through the solid layer of mashed plantain.
    Now, pour the egg mixture all over the pastelón. 

Bake, then Top with the Remaining Cheese

  • Cover the baking dish in a layer of aluminum foil and place it in the preheated oven. Bake the pastelón for 30 minutes.
    After 30 minutes, remove the baking dish from the oven. Remove the foil covering and sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top of the pastelón.
    Return the dish to the oven and bake for an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly and lightly browned.
  • Remove the pastelón from the oven and allow it to cool, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
    Serve with a garden salad, a few slices of ripe avocado, or on its own.

Notes

Tips when shopping for Plantains:
  • look for plantains mottled with black spots: it indicates that the plantain is sweet, soft, and easy to mash.
  • avoid plantains with even a slight bit of green on the peel, as these are too starchy and potato-y to add to the pastelón
  • too quickly ripen a green plantain, heat them in a warm (170°F) oven for 30 minutes. Once they develop a dark peel, they're soft.
  • avoid plantains that are too black, they have a cloyingly sweet flavor which will overwhelm the pastelón. 
To Make Traditional Pastelón:
  • Peel and slice the plantains lengthwise into 5 slabs that are approximately 1/8" thick.
  • Heat an inch of vegetable oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  • When the oil is hot, lightly fry the plantain 1 1/2-2 minutes on each side, or until they brown lightly.
  • Drain the plantain slices on paper towels to absorb excess grease and arrange in layers in the baking dish as you would the mashed plantains. 
Egg-Free Pastelón:
If you have an allergy to eggs, you can omit the binder completely. Instead, add more cheese, sprinkling it between each layer instead of only on the middle and top layers. 
To store leftover pastelón:
  • Transfer leftover pastelón to a food storage container and keep it in the fridge for 3 days.
  • Reheat leftovers in the microwave on high heat until warmed through or cover the leftovers and reheat the pastelón in a 300°F oven for 10 or 15 minutes.
  • Any reheated leftovers should be discarded. 
To freeze pastelón:
  • Unbaked: don't pour the egg mixture onto the casserole until just before you plan to bake it.
    After assembling the
    pastelón in a freezer-safe dish, wrap the pan in 2 layers of plastic wrap and 1 layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
    Freeze for up to 2 months.
    Thaw the
    pastelón in the fridge for 24 hours (or until completely thawed), then pour the egg-soda mixture over and bake as instructed above.
  • Baked pastelónbake the casserole completely and allow it to cool fully.
    Once cool, wrap the 
    pastelón (in its freezer-safe dish) in a couple of layers of plastic wrap and one layer of heavy-duty aluminum foil.
    Freeze for up to 3 months.
    Thaw the
    pastelón under refrigeration for 24 hours and reheat in the microwave or a 300°F oven until warmed through. 
Make-Ahead Instructions:
  • Pastelón can be made up to 2 days ahead.
  • assemble the casserole completely, without pouring on the egg mixture.
  • wrap the assembled pastelón, then store in the fridge for 48 hours. 
  • just before baking, whisk and pour the egg mixture over the casserole. 
  • bake as instructed above. 
 

Nutrition

Calories: 375kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 34g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 998mg | Potassium: 1180mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 24g | Vitamin A: 2021IU | Vitamin C: 53mg | Calcium: 311mg | Iron: 2mg