Pastelón de Cassava
This is a cassava shepherd’s pie. Cassava is a tuberous root and the third-largest source of carbohydrates in the tropics (after rice and corn). We serve this dish with rice, beans and salad. It’s very hearty, and a great meal for a Sunday Feast.
4 pounds peeled, chopped cassava/yuca (you can find this frozen and ready to prepare at Costco, or any Asian or Hispanic grocery store will carry it fresh)
1½ cups water
6-ounce can salt-free tomato paste
½ cup fresh cilantro leaves
½ of a red bell pepper, chopped
½ of an onion, chopped
1 chopped scallion
2 crushed garlic cloves
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups mixed vegetables of your choice (frozen mixed vegetables work as well; I always add spinach and kale)
½ cup nutritional yeast (optional)
1. Fill a large pot halfway with water and bring it to boiling. Add the chopped cassava to the boiling water (the water should cover the cassava). Cook until tender (a knife should be able to go through easily. Do not overcook the cassava). While the cassava is cooking, preheat the oven to 350°F and begin step 3. When the cassava is done, remove it with a slotted spoon into a bowl, and mash it very well. Spread half of the cassava mash evenly into the bottom of an 8x11-inch baking dish. (The other half of the cassava mashed will be used at the end.)
2. In a large, deep pan on low heat, add the 1½ cups water and tomato paste, and mix well. Add the cilantro, red pepper, onion, scallion, garlic, and black pepper, and stir to coat. Let this cook for a few minutes so the ingredients release their flavor into the sauce. Turn the stove off. Add the mixed vegetables to the pan and mix thoroughly. (The vegetables will cook in the oven, so it’s not necessary to cook them in the pan.)
3. Scoop the vegetable-sauce mixture on top of the first layer of cassava and spread evenly. Spread the remaining half of the cassava mash over the vegetables until they are completely covered. If you desire, sprinkle nutritional yeast on top of the top cassava layer. Bake for 25-30 minutes until the corners are lightly browned.