Description: Food Network Kitchen's Pastelon de Amarillos.
Recipe courtesy of Daniela Swamp for Food Network Kitchen

Pastelón de Amarillos

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  • Level: Intermediate
  • Total: 2 hr
  • Active: 1 hr 15 min
  • Yield: 6 to 8 servings
The classic Puerto Rican and Caribbean dish pastelón has been around for at least a century. Rumor has it that the modern version, a casserole that closely resembles lasagna, emerged in New York City, where Puerto Rican and Italian cultures collided. Mid-20th century Puerto Rican recipes for pastelón call for dried prunes, raisins, hard-boiled eggs and green beans. I prefer the most modern and Italian influenced version of pastelón: A casserole consisting of layers of sweetly caramelized fried plantains enveloped in melted mozzarella and a briny tomato-based meat sauce. Although, it is not uncommon to eat pastelón with Puerto Rican-style white rice, I suggest serving it with some nice salad greens seasoned with a squeeze of lemon juice for a crunchy and light contrast to this rich and savory dish. Feel free to substitute ground turkey or plant-based meat in place of beef for a lighter version.



  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Rub the inside of a 9-inch square baking dish with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Add the ground beef and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and a few cracks of pepper. Cook, stirring often, until starting to brown, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring often, until the onions are translucent and the peppers are softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, capers, olives and brine, oregano, if using, and almost all of the cilantro (reserve 1 tablespoon for garnish). Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce is thickened and reduced slightly, about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, to fry the plantain strips, heat a large heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat and add the vegetable oil. Heat until the oil until it reaches 325 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer or it bubbles when it comes in contact with a wooden spoon.
  4. Fry the plantain strips in batches until golden brown, about 2 minutes on each side. Drain the plantain strips on paper towels and add a pinch of salt while they are still warm. Set aside.
  5. To assemble the pastelón, first add half of the egg mixture to the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Next, layer a third of the plantain strips to cover the bottom. Evenly spread half of the meat sauce over the layer of plantains. Sprinkle 1 cup of the shredded mozzarella over the meat sauce. Next, add a second layer of fried plantain strips, followed by the remaining meat sauce spread evenly. Finally, top the meat sauce with the remaining plantains strips and pour the remaining egg mixture over the whole dish, using a pastry brush or spoon to spread along evenly. Sprinkle the rest of the shredded mozzarella evenly on top. Top with the reserved 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro plus a few cracks of pepper for garnish.
  6. Cover the dish with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake until the cheese is completely melted and beginning to brown, another 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Cook’s Note

For this recipe, the plantains should be very ripe with yellows skins covered with lots of big dark spots. The more dark spots, the better – though I don’t recommend using completely black ones as they will be too soft and difficult to handle.