The Joy of Plantains

Today’s xgfx Vegan MoFo guest post is brought to us by Camille of Gluten Free, Soy Free Vegan – all the way from Northern Senegal, West Africa!


My name is Camille, and I am serving in the Peace Corps in Northern Senegal, West Africa. I live in a very small village where my diet consists of rice, millet, and leaf sauce. When I do get a chance to go to the big city and hang out at our regional house, we still have very limited food options. So when a new store opened up featuring a lot of hard to find items (such as chickpeas and tortilla chips) we jumped for joy! Among the many gems, we happened to stumble across plantains.

For those of you who may not know, plantains are a tropical fruit that strongly resemble a banana. However plantains are much larger than bananas, and need to be cooked before eating. Additionally, plantains start out green (like bananas) but are not fully ripe until they are black. They are eaten as a staple food in many tropical areas of the world, and can be boiled, steamed, or fried.

I have a special place in my heart for plantains ever since I chanced upon them at a Caribbean restaurant in Cape Cod years ago. Then recently our local health food store started stocking Inka Plantain Chips, which with only three ingredients (plantains, palm oil, and salt) quickly became my favorite quick snack.

There seem to be an endless variety of ways to cook this amazing plant. Last week, my friend Rachel and I experimented with this recipe for Plantain Patties Stuffed with Black Beans and loved it!

It works best when you have plantains that are yellow with some black. Also, I found I enjoyed these the most when it seemed as if we had burnt them. It sounds weird, but if you get them fully black on both sides when you fry them they end up tasting nice and sweet. Golden brown was good too, but it almost tasted a bit uncooked.

Here are some pictures of Rachel making the patties:

My favorite, and the most simple way to cook plantains, is to wait until they are completely black and almost mushy and then fry them. All you do is peel the plantain and cut into ½ inch pieces. Then heat up oil (enough to generously cover the pan) and fry them. When frying, the plantain will turn a deep yellow and puff up a little when it is ready to flip. Be patient, it will take a while and then suddenly they will all be ready to turn at once. Again, if you end up ‘burning’ them, it actually tastes pretty good. Drain, add salt, and serve.

Fried plantains are good alone, but also make a great addition to stir fries. Try combining sautéed onions, garlic, carrots, corn, and black beans with raw tomatoes, cilantro, and fried plantains. Sprinkle with a lime and serve over quinoa for a easy, tasty, and healthy meal.

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  1. Posted October 24, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    I’ve only ever had plantains a couple of times but I love them. I need to cook them more.

    • Posted October 24, 2011 at 11:28 am | Permalink

      me, too!
      thanks for this post, camille.

  2. bitt
    Posted October 24, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

    love that there is a kindred GF SF vegan afar. if I ever get to senegal I hope you will cook me a meal. you totally defy the stereotype that for some reason people can’t have dietary restrictions while abroad.

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