Plantains or Platanos. If you’ve never had them, then please note that this is a fruit that must be cooked. It is most often served as a snack or side dish to a savory entree. While cooked plantains are tasty served all by themselves, they also sit nicely next to rice and beans, any “meaty” style vegan dish, or next to a plate of greens, and in my opinion they always steal the show. Platanos Maduros (sweet plantains) are just magical. My husband used to eat them in the morning, drizzled with mojo sauce, along with his scrambled eggs and home fries. (Vegans may happily substitute scrambled tofu for the eggs.) I don’t think you can possibly have a bad day if you start with sweet plantains on your breakfast plate.
Plaintains can be purchased while green, yellow or black. If you buy one that is still green, you can keep it around for a week or two. When a plantain is green, if you cook it it’s flavor will be more along the lines of starchy foods like potatoes or casava root. If a plantain is semi-ripe and yellow, or yellow with black spots, it will be moderately sweet and similar to, but NOT the same as a “dessert” banana. (The plantains I cooked above were semi-ripe.) If a plantain is black but not rotten, don’t throw it out! It’s completely ripe, the fruit inside will have a beautiful, pink tinge, and the fruit will be sweet enough to use in preparing a dessert, but it will still taste a bit different than a banana.
Until now, I had always cooked yellow plantains by pan-frying them in a little oil, until the plantain pieces started to carmalize. This method of cooking always left my plantains a little on the soft and oily side. Bryant Terry’s recipe calls for roasting them. I found that with roasting, I still got that great, carmalized flavor. However, the plantain pieces were firmer, less oily, and I liked them better this way. The plantain is another food that Terry pairs up with Roasted Garlic-Lime Dipping Sauce. (Since I had some sauce left over from the night when I made the Roasted Root Vegetables, I purposefully decided to make this plantain dish.) Once again, this sauce added a surprising twist to an old favorite. Yum.