Vegan Pasteles de Yuca (with Beyond Meat)
Updated: Jul 16
Pasteles (Puerto Rican version of tamales, if you've never had one) are super popular around the holidays. There are different variations of pasteles and today we show you how to make the yuca ones. You will love that soft but yet super flavor consistency.
Also, with the new popularity of plant based "meat" we wanted to take the time to show you how you can incorporate them into Puerto Rican traditional cooking. We have taken the traditional pasteles de yuca and substituted the usual pork or chicken filling for Beyond Meat.
2 tbs oil
16 oz Beyond Meat, plant-based ground beef
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup sofrito
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1/4 cup olives and pimentos
1/2 tsp adobo
1 packet sazon
1/2 cup water
1 cup vegetable oil
⅛ cup annatto seeds
1 bay leaf
2 cloves garlic
6 lbs yuca
1 cup vegetable broth
4 tbs achiote oil
1 ½ tsp salt
Another way you can make pasteles, besides the traditional pasteles de masa, is to take all of the dough ingredients and substitute it for yuca. These pasteles, aptly known as pasteles de yuca, are also very popular during the holidays, and some, like myself, might even prefer them.
Besides using ground yuca for the dough, these pasteles are made almost identical to what we showed you in our earlier pasteles video.
You create a dough of pureed yuca, that is moistened with achiote oil and broth. Then you fill the dough with your favorite meat (or veggie meat) stuffing and roll it up in a banana leaf and boil it until cooked. Easy, right?
So to get started, you want to make your filling. This will need to simmer for a while, so best to get it cooking first.
Start by heating up a wide, heavy pan on medium high. Once hot, go ahead and add your oil and your onions, and saute your onions until translucent.
Next, add your sofrito and suatee until the liquid has evaporated.
Now, add your meat. We are using Beyond Meat’s plant-based ground beef, in order to show everyone how to make vegetarian pasteles. This is a great option for anyone who wants to reduce their consumption of animal products, but can easily be substituted for other meat options.
In our pasteles de masa video we showed people how to do a beef filling using cubed chuck; but you could also use the same recipe for boneless pork or chicken. I’d really encourage you to play around with it and see what you like best.
Once your meat how browned, go ahead and add your tomato sauce, your olives, your sazon, your adobo, and your oregano. Then saute all of this for 2-3 minutes.
Once reduced, add your water and cover your pot. Then turn your stove down to low and let your filling simmer for 20-30 mins. Make sure to check it every once in a while, and add water as necessary to make sure it doesn’t burn.
With your filling simmering, let’s start working on the dough. First thing we’ll need to do is peel and cut your yuca. Start by cutting the ends off your yuca and then peel off the yuca’s skin. You want to make sure to get all the way down to the white flesh. If you come across any discolored portions of the yuca, make sure to cut those out.
Once peeled, cut your yuca into pieces that will fit into food processor. Here, I’m cutting them into pieces that are approximately four inches long, and no more than 1 inch in diameter. As you are cutting them, place them into cold, clean water. This will keep them from getting discolored, and also help clean off any residual pieces of skin.
When peeling yuca, alot of people will use a knife to score the tough skin and then peel it off with their hands. I find it easier, however, just to use a sturdy vegetable peeler, to quickly remove the skin. Just make sure to peel deep enough, to remove all of the skin and any of the pinkish flesh underneath. When peeled, the yuca should be a bright white.
With your yuca peeled, let’s go ahead and turn it into a puree. Start by shredding your yuca in a food processor. Just install the shredding disk, then proceed to process all of your yuca pieces. As you add your yuca, try to shake off any residual water, so your dough isn’t too wet.
Once shredded, move the yuca back into a clean bowl.
Then, install your chopping blade in your food processor and proceed to puree all of your shredded yuca. Add a couple of handfuls of your shredded yuca, then pulse your food processor until the yuca is a fine puree. In order to get an even puree, you might need to remove the top of the food processor and mix the yuca. The end product should look and feel like fluffy mashed potatoes or cream of wheat.
With your yuca ground into a paste, we just need to flavor it. You are going to need three things to flavor your yuca. First, achiote oil. Second, some broth. And finally, salt.
To make your achiote oil, start by heating up some vegetable oil a heavy pot. Once your oil is hot, add your achiote seeds and saute for 1-2 minutes. You’ll notice that the oil will quickly turn a deep yellow color. Be careful not to get any of this on your clothes, as it will stain anything it touches.
After you have finished sauteing your achiote seeds, turn off the heat and add your garlic and bay leaves and stir occasionally until the oil has come back to room temperature.
Then, strain your achiote oil and you are ready to use it.
The second thing you’ll need for your dough is some sort of broth. You’ll need a total of 1 cup of broth and I like to incorporate some of the broth from your filling, in order to really meld all the flavors together.
To do this, just go ahead and pull out some of the liquid from your filling, which should be fully cooked by this point. Check your filling for salt and adjust as necessary. Then use a measuring cup or spoon to remove some of the liquid from your filling. Here, I was able to collect about ½ a cup of liquid from the filling, so I’m going to use that along with ½ cup of vegetable broth. But if you are able to get a full cup of liquid from your filling, no need to add vegetable broth. Add the liquid to the your ground yuca mix.
Then add your achiote oil to your ground yuca and mix until thoroughly incorporated. You’ll notice that the annatto oil combines with yuca to create a deep orange dough, that is the signature of pasteles de yuca.
Once thoroughly combined, add your salt and mix. You can taste your dough at this point and adjust the salt as necessary.
If not, you’ll want to boil your first yunta as soon as you make it, to check the flavor before rolling all of your pasteles--but we’ll get to that in a bit.
Now onto rolling your pasteles. First, gather all of your supplies in the same place. You’ll need pieces of parchment paper that are cut into squares approximately 12x15 inches long. Then you’ll need banana leaves, cut into squares approximately 8x12 inches long. You’ll also need butchers twine to tie together your pasteles, cut into pieces about 24 inches long.
You can find banana leaves in the frozen section of your local hispanic grocery store. Once thawed, wipe your leaves down with a damp cloth and cut into pieces. Once cut, make sure to remove the stems, in order to make it easier to fold.
Now back to rolling our pasteles. First, brush your banana leaf with achiote oil in a rectangle approximately 5x7 inches long. Then add about two thirds of a cup of your dough onto the rectangle of achiote oil and spread it out evenly, across the rectangle of achiote oil. Then add your filling to the edge of the dough furthest from you.
Now, fold over your banana leaf, so the dough fully encompasses the filling. Now, fold up the sides of your banana leaf, and finish rolling your pastel. First in the banana leaf, and then in the parchment paper.
Once your pastel is rolled, press it down to make sure its evenly distributed throughout the banana leaf, then set it aside.
Now let’s repeat the process with a second pastel. Paint your banana leaf with achiote oil. Add the masa and shape into a rectangle. Add your filing. Fold over your banana leaf so the dough encompasses the filling, and then roll your pastel, first in the banana leaf, and then in the parchment paper.
With two pasteles wrapped, now we are going to tie these into a Yunta. A Yunta is the standard unit of pasteles and is simply what we call two pasteles, that have been tied together.
To tie a Yunta, just lay your butchers twine on the table, than place your pasteles on top of the twine, with the loose ends facing inward. Then fold the twine over the pasteles lengthwise, turn your pasteles 90 degrees and wrap the twine around the pasteles width-wise. Once wrapped, tie your pasteles tightly, ensure they wont get loose later when you are boiling them.
With your first Yunta finished, its good practice to boil it immediately, in order to make sure you are happy with the taste, before proceeding to roll all of your pasteles.
To do this, just add your yunta to a pot of boiling water that has been slightly salted and boil it for 45 minutes.
Once finished, unwrap it and give it a taste. Does it need more salt? More filling? More annatto oil?
Once you’ve implemented any adjustments, go ahead and finish wrapping your pasteles. It never hurts to bring in some friends to help, just promise them some pasteles in return.
Once you’ve finished wrapping your pasteles, you can eat them right away or freeze them, by storing them in freezer-safe ziplock bags.
If you eat your pasteles right away, you’ll only need to boil them about 45 minutes. But if you freeze them, you’ll want to cook them about twice as long after taking them out of the freezer, to make sure they have plenty of time to heat up.
Check out our instructional video, showing how to make this recipe step-by-step HERE.