Recipe: Vegetarian Pasteles
Thinking about pasteles in Puerto Rico gives us a festive and cheerful feeling. It is because this traditional recipe has always represented family and community union, and celebration! Here we offer you a vegetarian version of this delicious recipe, with instructions for the guineo dough and cassava dough, prepared by Mónica Tollinchi in collaboration with Plenitud PR. Learn the story of Monica Tollinchi here.
For green banana dough:
1 bunch of green bananas
1 small calabaza squash (approx. ¼ of the dough)
For cassava (yuca) dough:
6 cassava roots, approximate
½ cup vegetable oil or ghee with annatto seed (achiote)
1 galon vegetable stock*, approximate
2 tablespoons oil or ghee
3 medium onions
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon coriander seed, ground
2 bay leaves
4 garlic cloves (optional)
1 tablespoon ginger, minced or grated
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
6 celery stalks
4-6 collard greens or any other greens on hand, roughly chopped
1 bunch each of cilantro and basil (or any other herb of your liking)
2 galons filtered water
Green olives, (optional)
Red pepper strips (optional)
Salt to taste
Bananas leaves, cleaned, wilted and cut to size
Pasteles wrapping paper (optional)
Directions for vegetable stock:
Sautee first 8 ingredients at low heat for about 15 minutes.
Add vegetables, cover and ‘sweat’ them for about 15-20 minutes on medium heat. Some water can be added to keep them from sticking to the bottom. Add water and salt and bring to a boil.
When it comes to a rapid boil, lower the heat and keep simmering covered for about 1 hour. The longer it cooks the better the flavor.
Directions for the dough:
(Green banana dough) Peel bananas and squash and cut into cubes.
(Cassava dough) peel and cube cassava roots.
In a blender, put the banana and squash or cassava with a little of the vegetable stock, and blend. Add stock as needed for desired consistency. For a firmer consistency, add less stock; add more for looser texture. Añadir caldo de vegetales a ojo hasta que quede la consistencia al gusto. To assist with this blending process, a blender tamper can be helpful. If you don’t have one, a peeled, whole green banana can be used instead! Continue blending until a homogeneous consistency is achieved. Do this in batches and set aside the prepared dough in a large bowl or pot.
After all the dough is prepared, add the annatto seed oil or ghee.
If you use the wrapping paper, put a piece of banana leaf on the paper. Ensure the paper will cover the entire piece of leaf once wrapped.
Spread about a teaspoon of the oil on the leaf. This will prevent the dough from sticking and allow it to slide off once it’s cooked.
Pour about ¼ cup of the dough onto the leaf and spread evenly with a large spoon or laddle.
Put desired amount of stuffing onto the center of the dough. Other ingredients such as olives, roasted red peppers, or raisins can be added at this point.
Fold the leaf and paper in half over the dough so that both ends of the paper meet. The idea here is that the stuffing is covered with the dough and that they stay contained inside the wrapper. Fold edges to prevent dough from running out.
To tie pasteles, put two of the wrapped pasteles together with the seam side facing and tie with string. Watch video on how to tie pastel.
These can be boiled in salted water or frozen for later use.
There are many options for the stuffing:
Stewed pigeon peas (gandules)
Tempeh or Tofu
Vegetable of your choice
Soy meat is not recommended (search a link)