A pastelillo is basically the Puerto Rican version of an empanada. I grew up eating them and definitely consider them a comfort food. One more plus…DH is practically a slave to them! The only problem is, they basically consist of deep-fried pastry dough and greasy ground beef: not exactly figure-friendly. While I don’t want to completely sacrifice the essence of the dish, I want to be able to eat them more often, without the guilt. So with this post…I’ve decided to officially launch a brand spankin’ new category: “Healthified!” Because yes, like so many people, after Christmas I vowed to do whatever I could to stay healthy and become more fit. I’m not really the type to totally give up things that I love; I believe in enjoying life, and clearly, for me food is a big part of that. To achieve my goals, I’ve been altering some traditionally unhealthy meals to make them more suited to my efforts (and of course, bumping up my exercise routine!). I’m not giving up cheese, or meat, or carbs, or really anything, I’m just modifying and moderating. I hope you all enjoy my efforts and join me by making a change, so that you can be a better you, too.
Spanish Green Olives (Alcaparrado or Manzanilla)
Goya Adobo (con pimiento)
Goya Sazon (con culantro y achiote)
Bay Leaves (dry or fresh)
Goya Discos Grande (freezer section, make sure to defrost ahead of time)
Ground Beef (as lean as you can afford)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Note: I would normally use fresh cilantro, as well, but I didn’t have any, so I skipped it and the recipe still turned out delish.
Start by preheating your oven to 425 degrees. Then heat a drizzle of olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. While the pan heats up, finely chop all of your veggies.
Then add the veggies to the pan, and season with salt and pepper.
Saute until veggies soften and onions begin to go translucent.
Add in the ground beef and allow the first side to brown up.
When the bottom is nicely browned, turn and allow to cook through and mix with veggies. Drain off any excess grease.
Next, season to taste with the Adobo, Sazon, and more salt and pepper, if needed. Then add tomato sauce (enough to really move everything around and coat the mixture), bay leaves, and olives.
Stir well to incorporate and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Remove from heat, discard the bay leaves, and allow to cool for a few minutes. While you wait, carefully separate your discs, lay the first one out and fill one half with a small amount of meat mixture.
Fold over disc so that edges meet.
Use a fork to seal and crimp edges. Repeat this process until all of the discs are filled and sealed.
Cover a cookie sheet with a silpat, parchment paper, or a light coating of cooking spray. Then place each pastelillo on the cookie sheet and lightly mist with cooking spray.
Bake 10-15 minutes until crust is bubbly and crisp.
Allow to cool just a bit (they will be very, very hot right out of the oven) serve with a simply dressed salad, and ENJOY!