I've been Vegan since 2012 and I obviously eschewed a lot of foods from back in the day. This Thanksgiving my sister asked to come through and and I was all like, Nah.. Food holidays are not my gig. But then she said she had been developing an idea for Vegan Pasteles. Oh yeaaah? Normal pasteles have Achiote which contains lard (Yuck!) So I met up with my sisters in Spanish Harlem and and they helped bring life to this amazing idea!
The Center Concoction:
For the stuff you find at the center of the pastels we combine vegetable stock and olive oil then we add chick peas, a can of tomato sauce, Half a jar of pitted olives with pimentos. (Yeah I like Goya best…) I chopped up a zucchini, squash and eggplant and mock meat Pick your favorite form from a spot like May Wah or grab a quick can of Chai pow yu also known as Chinese braised gluten or a can of Vegetarian Peking Roast Duck (Mun Cha'i Ya) and chop it small. Some people like Tofu in theirs Salt, Pepper, Adobo to taste, Some people also dig adding potatoes or raisins (if you like it sweet).
The base is according to my sis is: Yucca, cilantro, spanish onion, green peppers, garlic, (this can be also be used in your center concoction as well!) For every bunch of green bananas you chop up add one green platano. (Note: green bananas aren't platanos - surprise!) My sis did this weird technique where you slice them on the outside once then put them under hot water till the peels turn black. You may want to use gloves so your fingers don't turn black. When we were kids we had to do the gruntwork and use a grate which trust me wasn't that "great", it was tedious and tiring but as my sister showed me modern technology totally rules! Also she added a sweet potato. Some people add yucca/ cassava/ tapioca but be careful! I learned that eating raw yucca is dangerous and it isn't an old wives tale like I used to dismiss.
When you run your hand through it, it's mushy and you get a displeased look like I have.
Once you have the Masa ready you take a spoonful of oily gravy from your center concoction and put it on the pasteles paper* in a circular motion then slap down some masa dough in there smoothing it out.
(*some old school people use an actual bay leaf instead of paper)
next up there's this whole folding and tying ritual. Here a video version I like: https://youtu.be/kFwnm83wZ9g (See? she's wearing gloves!)
My sis wraps them up by twos! Now I can be like the old doñas selling em 2 for $5 at the church during the holiday season! ...and while I'm at it, I need a gigantic flan! Just kidding. I used to love me some flan!
They pass the taste test on constancy. My sis sez to boil vegan ones for a about 45 minutes (Far faster than meat ones!) Don't forget to put salt in the water.
Here was my jovial holiday dinner of vegan pastels on a bed of kale with walnuts and sun dried tomatoes. with a center mixture of black beans, red onions and french green beans w capers.
End result: Yummy pasteles and bonding with my family. We listened to a lot of music that my mom used to love, R&B, Disco and Spanish music: Celia Cruz, Frankie Ruiz, Charanga '76, Fania All Stars and the first Jimmy Sabater solo album that she used to rock on 8-Track. I truly have a lot to be thankful for.