Brown Rice Pastelón 6.000

Deb Lindsey for The Washington Post

Jan 14, 2015

Pastelón is a lasagna-like Puerto Rican dish that typically uses plantains instead of pasta. This lightened-up version makes use of brown rice instead, plus lean ground meats. Because the rice layer and meat layers are similar in color, the layered effect is not readily apparent. But the process provides a good way to distribute the components evenly.

To make this a quick recipe, skip the rice-cooking step and use about 4 cups of frozen/defrosted cooked brown rice.

Serve with a salad.

Make Ahead: The dish can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 6 servings

  • 2 1/4 cups brown rice (not quick-cooking; see headnote)
  • 4 cups water, or more as needed
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated pecorino Romano cheese
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed oil
  • 12 ounces lean ground chicken
  • 12 ounces lean ground turkey
  • 3 tablespoons minced onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons minced carrot
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed and chopped
  • 1 tablespoon pitted, chopped green olives
  • 1 Thai red chile pepper, seeded and minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Leaves from 4 sprigs thyme
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons distilled white vinegar


Combine the rice and water in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Cover and bring to a boil, stirring once, then reduce the heat to low; cook, covered, for about 40 minutes or until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender. If it seems dry or undercooked, add a little water and cook for 5 minutes more. Remove from the heat; let cool (with the lid on) to a slightly warm room temperature.

Stir in the cheese and eggs until well incorporated.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the ground chicken and turkey; cook for 5 minutes, stirring often to break up any large clumps, until the meat loses its raw look. Reduce the heat to low; stir in the onion and garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the carrot, capers, olives, chili pepper, bay leaves, thyme sprigs and vinegar (to taste). Cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is fragrant; the meat doesn't have to be cooked through, at this point. Remove from the heat to cool while the oven heats up. Discard the bay leaves.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Use cooking oil spray to grease a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

Spread one-third of the rice mixture evenly over the bottom of the baking dish. Use half of the meat mixture to create a layer atop the rice mixture. Use the remaining separate mixtures to create alternating, thin layers. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve hot.

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Recipe Source

Adapted from "Healthy Latin Eating: Our Favorite Family Recipes Remixed," by Angie Martinez and Angelo Sosa (Kyle, 2015).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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