Here at Green Mountain, we get a lot of questions on how to use unfamiliar produce that ladies have noticed in the grocery store. It’s a great idea to explore unknown territory in the produce section, as you might just find something that was previously unknown to you is quite delicious, and it’s always good to add a greater variety of veggies and fruits to everyday life. I’ve heard something about variety spicing life up, as well as being a big part of healthy eating… With that in mind, let’s get down to the business at hand, an overgrown banana (kinda).
Plantains are actually a larger cousin of the banana, and can be eaten at various stages of ripeness. When they’re green, plantains are reminiscent in taste and starchiness to a potato. At that point, a plantain is best if its fried or boiled. If you let it get nice and yellow with some black spots, though, it becomes another creature altogether. Just like the banana, a plantain gets sweeter as its skin gets blacker. But that doesn’t mean you should eat it raw…ew. Cook it and you’ll be much happier.
For the recipe below, I suggest you let a plantain ripen to the point of being almost half black or so. The sweetness of the ripe plantain paired with a good Chinese five spice is a great dessert, snack, or even a starchy side dish. (I like it with a spicy grilled pork tenderloin or barbequed chicken.) If you don’t have Chinese five spice in your arsenal, you can substitute cinnamon for it instead with a similar result, or leave out the spice altogether.
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp Chinese five spice (optional)
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Open the plantains by cutting off the tips and slicing just through the skin lengthwise (it’s not as easy as a banana is to peel). Slice the plantains at a uniform thickness; I like about 1/8 of an inch. Toss with the remaining ingredients, then, on a parchment lined or lightly greased sheet pan, lay the slices in a single layer. Bake at 400 degrees for about 20-30 minutes, turning over once during baking to ensure even browning. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly before eating.
What are some veggies or fruits you’ve seen in the produce section that you have little or no idea how to use?