25 Ways to Use Plantains

By: Contributor

Plantains are bananas' starchier older cousin and, unlike bananas, thrive in savory applications. These guys are high in fiber and potassium, and chock full of vitamins A, B and C. Plantain chips are a delicious and nutritious alternative to potato chips (but generally still fried, so stay mindful when snacking).

Green plantains are super starchy -- almost like a potato -- and can be fried or boiled and then mashed. Grill or bake yellow plantains, which are slightly sweeter. Almost black plantains are the sweetest and are best in dessert applications. For more info on some Caribbean pantry staples check out Pantry: Caribbean Essentials. Plantains always need to be cooked before consuming, giving you the perfect excuse to peruse these 25 ways.

Photo by: Tara Donne ©2012, Cooking Channel, LLC.

Tara Donne, 2012, Cooking Channel, LLC.

  1. Roger Mooking’s Plantain Gratin is topped with quick pickled shallots and jalapenos.
  2. Kelis utilizes leftover cooking liquid from her Plantain Mash to thin out the sauce from her Jumbo Shrimp with Tomato Fricasse and Strawberries (pictured above).
  3. Alton Brown’s Fried Plantains are fried, soaked in water and then fried again, while Emeril sticks to the simple single-fry method in his Fried Plantains.
  4. Sunny Anderson uses a combo of butter and canola oil for her Sauteed Plantains, the perfect side dish for Oxtail Stew.
  5. Lita Oliver’s Plantains a la Gloria is a simple dessert with a depth of flavor from cinnamon nutmeg, vanilla extract and just a bit of lemon juice.
  6. Instead of potatoes to thicken up a soup, Ingrid Hoffman utilizes plantains to do the job in her simple Plantain Soup recipe.
  7. Aranitas are shredded Plantain Fritters, or as I like to think of them: Puerto Rican latkes.
  8. Marco’s Plantain Salsa is a cooked salsa that utilizes bonito flakes, dehydrated, fermented Japanese fish flakes (sounds unappetizing, I know) that give a savory flavor to dishes, much like fish sauce does.
  9. Serve fried Jamaican Dumplings with Plantains as a side with The Ultimate Jerk Chicken.
  10. Patacones are slightly different than the plantain chips you can find in the supermarket. These are thick slices of plantain that have been fried, smashed and then refried for a super crunchy snack. Try them out with Spiny Lobster Ceviche.
  11. In West Africa, fufu is dough ball made from starchy veg like cassava or plantains and then ripped apart and dipped in soup. In the Caribbean, fufu (called mofongo in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico) is a mashed plantain dish mixed with meat like chorizo and, similar to the West African versions, is also served with soup.
  12. More Mofongo and the surf ‘n turf options: Shrimp Mofongo and Skirt Steak Mofongo.
  13. Patacon is a Venezuelan sandwich that replaces the traditional bread outer layers with fried green plantain (paleo delight). Patacon con Todo is a real treat-- but if it’s paleo you’re after, skip some of the sauces and cheese.
  14. Scoop spicy (think cinnamon, cumin, currants, oregano, red pepper and allspice) Pork Picadillo onto double-fried tostones with some fresh salsa.
  15. Crispy plantains like Bal Arneson’s Fried Plantain Chips are the perfect compantion to endless dishes. To name a few: Avocado Aji, Ceviche de Atun, Panamanian Tamales and Pulled Pork Sandwiches.
  16. Pasteles en Hoja are the Dominican version of tamales, stuffed dough wrapped and cooked in banana leaves. Banana leaves add a lot of flavor to pasteles but if you’re in a pinch and can’t find any, use corn husks, foil or parchment paper to substitute.
  1. Bobby Flay’s Mojo Marinated Pork is served with mojo dipping sauce and plantains caramelized with rum and brown sugar.
  2. Roger Mooking marinates chicken pieces in overnight and then cooks them, along with plantains, chiles, tomatoes and onions in a simple syrup for sticky, sweet and spicy Trinidadian-Style Chicken.
  3. Pastelon is a Puerto Rican casserole, similar to lasagna, but layered with mashed plantains instead of sheets of pasta. Pastelon de Platano Maduro utilizes recao or culantro, a leafy herb with an intense cilantro flavor. Recao can be found at many Latin or Asian supermarkets, but if you can’t find any, cilantro is a great substitute.
  4. Serve Estella’s Mole Poblano with store-bought roasted chicken for an easy weeknight meal.
  5. Fried Barracuda with Fried Plantains and Salad is served with Caribbean staple rice and peas (also known as pigeon peas). If you can’t find any barracuda, substitute with mahi mahi.
  6. Sweet Plantain Wrap with Smoke Apple Bacon is an easy-to-make appetizer that requires no prep time and only a few minutes under the broiler before it’s ready to serve.
  7. Caramel-Glazed Plantains can be served as a side dish or sweetened up a bit for dessert, like Plantains Glazed with Temptation Caramel.
  8. Fried Plantains with Cheese are queso-fresco-filled plantain dumplings. As the name suggests queso fresco is a fresh, unaged cheese and can often be substituted for feta. Aaron Sanchez uses a tortilla press, but you can also use a rolling pin to flatten the plantains between two sheets of plastic wrap.
  9. Quimbombo, a Cuban Okra Stew with Pork and Plantain Dumplings, is also the Spanish name of the okra pods. Cut down on okra’s slimy texture by soaking the pods in acidulated (think lemon juice or vinegar) cold water.
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