Pasteles are a traditional Latin American and Caribbean dish that’s usually enjoyed around the holiday season. Of course they can be enjoyed all year long, but they are labor intensive to make and most make them for family gatherings and special dinners. Pasteles consist of a masa, made in a combination of green banana, yautia (taro root), pumpkin, green plantain and potato. Some people use a few of these ingredients others use the entire combination. There’s really no wrong way to make them when using any of these ingredients. Pasteles are then encased with a filling of choice, traditional recipes use pork or beef for their filling. This is where you can make them your own. The filling is completely customizable and up to you.
My background is Greek and French, but I actually had Pasteles growing up. My best friend (who was basically like my sister) growing up was Puerto Rican and Mexican and her mother (who was my second mom back in the day) used to make them often. She opened me up to the cultural dishes many years ago. It was only in recent years of me transitioning that I even attempted to recreate any of the dishes I used to love many moons ago. Since, being with my Hubbz for 11 years now, I’ve been to many family dinners and they always served Pasteles as well as other traditional dishes that I used to love before transitioning.
Being this is a vegan blog, I obviously do not use any animal meat for my fillings. Instead, I have a few options, which are all plant-based. I tried to offer a few different option that would be desired for those with diet restrictions. Some people avoid soy products which is why I have 2 soy-free options. One of the two options that are soy-free is the “Plain” Pasteles. The plain Pasteles are made with chickpeas and sweet potatoes, pimentos, green olives that are cooked in a special homemade adobo seasoning. These were one of my very first Pastele options that I offered. The newest option that is soy-free is the “Jackfruit” Pasteles, which is shredded jackfruit cooked until perfectly tender in a homemade seasoning with pimentos and green olives. This option is a big hit for those who miss their not so cruelty free “shredded pork” Pasteles. The last option I offer is the “Combo” which has a soy-based meatless crumble with white potato, pimentos and green olives again in a homemade adobo seasoning. This is the most common Pastele that is ordered for those who are just transitioning because it is much similar to those of the traditional “beef” fillings.
The Pasteles are then wrapped and assembled in a sheet of parchment paper, a banana leaf with achiote oil (to prevent sticking) as well as being tied using string to secure the sheets closed, to prevent the water getting inside while cooking.
TO ORDER: This is only for LOCAL PICKUP in the NORTH JERSEY area. If interested in purchasing, the Pasteles are sold by the dozen. Select which filling option you would like in the drop down menu. You can also decide if you would like the “Deluxe” which is 1/2 dozen each of any two options. There are different prices depending on which filling is selected. Pasteles are made to order. They are a process and do take time to prepare. I ask for a 7 day window. Majority of the time they are ready in a few days, it just depends on my schedule.
TO COOK: In a large pot of salted water, bring the water to a boil then add the Pasteles, either fresh or frozen, in a single layer. Be sure, that the Pasteles are completely immersed in the hot water. If fresh let them cook between 45 minutes – 1 hour. If frozen let them cook 1 hour and 15 minutes. Once done cooking, remove Pasteles from the hot water and let them cool. Unwrap and serve immediately with choice of side dishes or alone if desired.
STORAGE: Frozen Pasteles last for several months. Refrigerated Pasteles should be consumed within 3-4 days.