Plantains belong to the same family as bananas, though plantains are firmer and have lower sugar levels than regular bananas. Alexander the Great introduced these fantastic fruits to Europe around 300 BC; at different times in history their seeds were used as food for medicinal herbs. They are now widely used in cooking in tropical regions around the world, including Africa, South America, South-east Asia, India, and the Caribbean.
Plantains have proven their versatility through their use in myriad dishes. They can be steamed, boiled, grilled, baked, or fried. Their texture and starchiness is similar to potatoes, though sweeter in taste. In the Caribbean, it is common to mash them with red onions, making them into a popular dish called mangu.
Plantains are low in sodium and high in vitamin A, potassium and fiber (they are nutritionally similar to bananas). Plantains help ease the negative effects of gout, allergies, kidney stones, anemia, urinary disorders and tuberculosis. Plantains are also known to prevent ulcers and ease ulcer pain if consumed regularly.
Plantains are available in most supermarkets. Just look for green plantains (yellow ones have begun to sweeten) that are firm and fresh looking.
www.africanfoods.co.uk, www.whfoods.com, www.wikipedia.org
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Plantain baked in Orange Juice
2 plantains, ripe (skins almost completely black)
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
2 tablespoons orange zest, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Prep Time: 5 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, & grease an 8″ square baking dish.
2 Peel & slice the plantains, preferrably lengthwise, then lay the slices out in the prepared baking dish.
3 Mix honey, juice, zest & salt & pour over plantains.
4 Mix together brown sugar, cinnamon & nutmeg, then sprinkle over the top of the plantains.
5 Bake for 15-20 inutes or until browned & tender.
Mashed Plantains with Leeks and Fresh Herbs
7 cups water
1 cup low sodium chicken broth
2 large unpeeled semi-ripe plantains, ends trimmed, each cut cross-wise into thirds (yellow with black)
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 large leek, finely chopped (white and pale green parts only)
4 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced
2 teaspoons fresh Italian parsley, minced
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon chopped pecans
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
Prep Time: 15 mins
Total Time: 45 mins
1 Bring 7 cups water and broth to boil in heavy, large pot. Add plantains. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer until plantains are very tender and yellow-orange (some may begin to come out of peel), about 20 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup cooking liquid. Cool plantains 10 minutes. Remove peel using hands or small paring knife. Transfer plantains to large glass bowl. Add 1/2 cup of reserved cooking liquid and mash plantains until smooth, adding more liquid by tablespoonfuls to thin mixture, if desired. Set aside.
2 Melt butter with olive oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leek and sauté until tender but not browned, about 6 minutes. Stir in thyme and parsley. Add leek mixture to mashed plantains; stir to blend. (Can be made 1 hour ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Microwave on high until heated through before continuing.).
3 Mix sour cream and cumin into hot plantains. Season with salt and pepper. If using last tablespoon of butter, cut into small cubes. Scatter butter and pecans over; serve.
Plantain Salad Imoyo
1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 small green bell pepper
1 small hot red pepper
1 small cucumber
1 garlic clove, minced (optional)
Prep Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 20 mins
1 Peel the plantains by cutting through the peel lengthwise and sliding your fingers under the skin to pull it off.
2 Place the whole plantains in a medium saucepan with enough water to cover; bring to a boil and simmer for about ten minutes or until plantains are soft enough to pierce with a fork (If you use ripe ones which have gone yellow and are developing black spots, 10 minutes will be fine–the green ones will take longer and won’t taste as good).
3 Drain the plantains and set aside to cool.
4 While the plantains are cooking, peel and seed the green pepper and slice it into long thin slices.
5 Seed and chop the red pepper.
6 Peel, seed and dice the cucumber and place in a bowl with the peppers.
7 Whisk the oil, lime juice, salt and pepper, and garlic (if you are using it–I like it) together until creamy; this will take a couple of minutes.
8 Slice the cooled plantains on the diagonal into 1/2″ pieces and add to the vegetables in the bowl.
9 Pour the marinade over and mix well.
10 Serve at room temperature.
11 Note: This salad is best if made an hour or so in advance so the flavors can ‘marry’ — I find it needs more salt and pepper at the table–a matter of taste.
Skillet Sweet Potato and Plantain
1 large sweet potato, diced into small cubes
1/2 vidalia onion, sliced thin
1 large plantain, thinly sliced at an angle
2 tablespoons olive oil
ground cayenne pepper
Prep Time: 10 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
1 Peel sweet potato and dice into small cubes.
2 Boil potato in water; until cooked. Drain, shake off as much water as you can.
3 Saute onion in 1 tbsp oil over med. heat for about 5 mins in large non-stick skillet.
4 Add other 1tbsp oil and plantain to skillet, increase heat to med. high. Saute till golden brown. Add cooked sweet potatoes. Using a metal spatula, saute all three ingred. for another 3-5 minutes seasoning to taste with sea salt, pepper, and ground cayenne pepper.
5 Serve with rice or in tortillas and salsa and/or guacamole. Enjoy!
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