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Anything but Plain Plantain

Anything but Plain Plantain

Anything but Plain Plantain

A newbies experience

You may have heard of the plantain, even seen it in the grocery store, but until you cook with one, perception is one thing and reality is another.  Plantain experts will tell you; they are no doubt one of the most versatile fruits out there.  During early green stage of ripeness, they can pose as the all-American favorite potato, and once they’ve turned black- yes black- they are as sweet as can be and can be used in smoothies, baked goods or even custards.  We’ve asked Dole’s Registered Dietitian and Chef Melanie Marcus to give you her take on some of Dole’s new plantain recipes. 

“Before this challenge, plantains made me think of mofongo, tostones and chips from vacations past, to me they were bananas savory cousin.  But after this experiment, I realize there is so much more to them!  Here I tested three recipes and give you my experience.  First remember that plantains take much longer to ripen than bananas so if a recipe calls for sweet plantains, you may need to shop in advance to get them to the right stage.  I purchased them green and they took at least a week and a half to get to the sweetest stage of ripeness - black. 

  • Pineapple, Plantain & Sweet Potato Smoothie:  This was a HUGE hit and an easy introductory recipe to plantains.  In our house we already peel and freeze bananas for smoothies, so using the plantain in this way was already familiar.  Once it was black, I cut off each end of the fruit and used a knife to peel back the skin (they don’t just peel easily like a banana).  Slid the plantain into a freezer bag to chill and use in this smoothie.  My husband reported it was the best smoothie test yet.  It has a tropical creamy sweetness that is delicious. 
  • Plantain Latkes with Yogurt Dill Dressing :  This recipe used green plantains which are not sweet, but starchy.  The trick here is to remove the skin without loosing the fruit!  At this stage the fruit really sticks to the skin and they do not separate easily.  I found that trimming end of plantains and then using paring knife to score skin at least 3-4 times from one end to the other helped remove skin easily.  Then I just shred it quickly on a box grater like a potato and had delicious latkes about 5 minutes later! 
  • Creamy Plantain Salad:  This is a spin on everyone’s summer favorite potato salad.  It calls for yellow-green plantains that have been peeled and grilled to add flavor, but my hunch is they could also be boiled and used in this recipe as well, we’ll have to test that version too!  To keep this recipe lower fat we lean on silken tofu for the dressing and boy does it deliver!  It’s a slightly sweeter version of your summer potato salad and it is delicious. 

What I love about these recipes is that they’ve transported plantains from my vacation memories to my everyday life.  And the best part is, no matter the stage of ripeness, there is always something to do with them!” 

Published August 2020

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