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What on Earth is Puerto Rican Lasagna?

Right around the time I was planning my trip to Puerto Rico, Stacey Viera mentioned Puerto Rican lasagna to me. What on Earth is Puerto Rican lasagna!? Well, it's a combination of sweet plantains, ground beef, olives, raisins, onions and peppers. I absolutely love sweet plantains, so my interest was definitely piqued.

Once in Puerto Rico, I mentioned this dish to my friend Laura, but unfortunately we did not have a chance to make it at her home: there's just never enough time on vacations to eat at as many restaurants as you want or to make as many dishes in the kitchen as you want. Instead, Laura sent me this recipe when I said I'll try to make it in my own kitchen.

Of course I decided to make a few changes:

1. Sweet plantains are incredibly sweet as is, so I decided not to add raisins.
2. I also decided to use red peppers instead of green ones because they just looked really pretty in the store.
3. I decreased the amount of plantains used and made twice as much meat mixture (half of which I froze to be used at a later date).
4. Even though this is not your typical lasagna, I wanted to add cheese.
5. Finally, I decided to eliminate 3 tablespoons of melted butter.
See how all these changes worked out ;)

Puerto Rican Lasagna (serves 4-6 people)
Printable Recipe

meat mixture
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
1 cup sliced olives (I used the green ones stuffed with Pepper Jack cheese)
4 tablespoons white wine

the rest of the ingredients
1 pound ground beef
canola oil
4 ripe plantains, peeled, sliced into 1/4 inch thickness lengthwise
1 cup shredded Queso Blanco cheese {Note: turns out this cheese doesn't melt...pretty much at all. So I'd recommend using Mozzarella or Cheddar}
2 eggs, beaten

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add all of the ingredients from "meat mixture" and saute for five minutes.

2. Stir in ground beef and cook till it has browned. Don't over cook it so that it gets dry. {Note: you will only use 1/2 of this mixture in this recipe. The rest you can eat with rice and beans or freeze and use at a later date.}
3. Preheat the oven to 350. Heat canola oil in a separate skillet (I used cast iron), and brown plantains on both sides. Immediately season them with a bit of salt.

4. Using a baking dish sprayed with PAM, layer your lasagna. My layers were: plantains/meat/cheese, repeated twice.

5. Pour the beaten eggs on top and bake your lasagna for about 30 minutes.

6. Let lasagna stand for a few minutes before you cut into it.

My thoughts:
1. This was relatively simple to do.
2. I absolutely LOVED the ground beef with peppers, onions and olives.
3. I'm so glad I did not add raisins: the plantains were sweet enough.
4. Definitely will use a melt-able cheese next time.
5. This is definitely not a lasagna in the "normal" sense of a word: it reminded me more of a Shepard's pie.
6. Don't make too much of this: after eating it four times, I'm getting a bit tired of it :)

Still, I'm really glad I tried a new-to-me recipe!
Oh, and those 3 tablespoons of butter I decided to leave out: DON'T!


Victoria said...

Such a cool take on lasagna - I bet the sweet plantains and salty olives play off each other very nicely.

Delicious Dishings said...

It looks really interesting (quite an array of flavors), but it definitely doesn't make me think lasagna in the traditional sense. And I end up making too much of everything and getting tired of eating it too. Not sure if it works with this, but I cut regular lasagna into lunch-size portions and freeze it.

Stacey Viera said...

So glad you enjoyed it! We make ours with french cut green beans instead of bell peppers. Yummy.

I couldn't agree more. The dish is so rich and sweet that it's really hard to eat it more than once or twice. Great to make for a crowd or freeze in individual servings to re-heat later.

Hooray for new experiences!

Cecilia said...

The Puerto Rican lasagna looks delicious! I guess the sweetness from the plantains means you can get tired of it after a few meals. I'll have to tell you about the Panamenian version when I see you! Love the blue plate, really makes the lasagna stand out in the photo.

Gastronomer said...

Wow! I would really love to try this dish. Sweet and savory flavor combos always intrigue me!

lisaiscooking said...

I love the idea of using strips of plantains as noodles! And, the added cheese sounds great.

sally said...

Any dish with sweet plantains is a winner in my book!

Unknown said...

This is probably the most inventive lasagne I've come across, really fun :D
*kisses* HH

Simones Kitchen said...

Now that's a different lasagna indeed but it looks like one I would enjoy immensely! Delicious!

Lo said...

I really love variations on the typical pasta-based lasagne. Give me "noodles" of eggplant, tortillas, thinly sliced potato... or plantain, and I'm a happy girl. Love this unique combo.

1000+1 said...

This dish reminds me of moussaka. And I commend that you're so adventurous in your cooking! It looks scrumptious -you take beautiful photos that make me salivate. Stuffing mixture sounds delicious. However, I'm not sure my taste buds would accept it between layers of plantain.

Paige said...

Yum, that looks really interesting -- in a good way! I love the idea of using plantains as a layer

Mai said...

It looks pretty and yummy!.. but the correct name is Pastelon (sweet plantain pastelon) :)

nicole said...

looks delicious! i love plantains.
i like the way the cheese looks on top unmelted. did it's lack of melti-ness affect the taste of the cheese?