Native to India, plantains are starchy, low-sugar members of the banana family, and are often used in Western African and Caribbean savory dishes — in fact, some refer to plantains as the pasta and potatoes of Caribbean cookery!
Much like potatoes, plantains aren’t suitable to eat raw, but their flavor and texture varies depending on their ripeness level. You should be able to find plantains in the produce aisle of your local grocery store: they look a lot like bananas, only slightly green and larger, while their interiors are creamy and yellowish, or even light pink. When a plantain’s peel is greenish or yellow, it will taste bland starchy, whereas the darker the peel turns (it can reach an almost pitch-black hue when fully ripened), the sweeter and more banana-y the plantain tastes.
Curious about how to use this staple Caribbean food? Check out 15 of our favorite plantain-based recipes below, courtesy of the Food Monster App!
Spicy Plantains With Rice and Peas pack a real punch and always taste so fresh. Scotch bonnets are key to this recipe, but if you can’t find them, just use the hottest chili you can get your hands on.
You’ll feel like a magician when you prepare these grain-free Chocolate Plantain and Banana Waffles and freeze them to keep on hand. Simply defrost and heat about ten minutes in the oven and become crispy and delicious! These banana waffles are very rich with a little bit of almond butter and roasted bananas or some chia jam. A simple and nutritious combination for an incredibly satisfying breakfast and easy to make!
Chili Coated Plantain Crisps With Lime Ketchup are great for parties, or an afternoon snack and are perfect for when you have a potato chip craving. They are best warm, but if you slice them about half as thick as these, and bake them until they’re extra crispy, you’ll have something very close to a potato chip that will keep and travel well. You can find plantains at most grocery stores now, but they’ll be much more affordable at an Asian or Latino market. Look for ones that are still green; they should be firm without too many brown spots.
Plantain Dumpling Soup has a bit of heat from fiery green chiles, sweetness from the plantains, and a delicate aroma from fresh lemongrass.
This Fried Plantain French Toast Sandwich is crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, with notes of warm nutmeg and cinnamon. Serve this French toast sandwich with a drizzle of maple syrup and a side of savory hash browns.
Sofrito Zucchini Pasta With Beans and Lightly Fried Plantains is so easy to make and packed with flavor and smells that’ll sneak up your nose and put a smile on your face. It’s satisfying, interesting, and much different than a traditional Italian pasta sauce.
Plantain Sweet Potato Tacos With Guacamole are exactly as they sound – stuffed with plantains, sweet potatoes, and black beans and topped with a simple guacamole. They’re vegan, gluten-free and an excellent lunch or dinner option!
Baked Plantain Chips have all the salty goodness of regular chips but with far fewer calories. They go perfect with sauces and dips or you can snack on them plain. You’re going to be happy either way.
Vegetable Curry With Plantains is full of healthy nutrients from the plantains and veggies, it also contains good fats from the coconut milk. Give this vegetable curry with plantains a try and find out what it means to have a new favorite curry recipe.
10. Plantain Brownies
Plantains may be a bit unusual in a brownie recipe, but they actually make a perfect base for oil-free baking. They add moisture just like bananas and help bind the brownies together, but don’t affect the flavor the way bananas do. The plantains need to be very ripe—quishy, mushy, almost-black ripe. Plantain Brownies have a light texture and are delicious to nibble warm from the oven or perfect under a scoop of frosty, non-dairy ice cream.
Caramelized Plantains With Coconut Cream are the perfect side dish or appetizer. The outsides get crunchy, the insides stay tender, and they’re the perfect balance of savory and sweet. The delicious coconut cream and flakes will transport you straight to your happy place.
Coconut Plantain ‘Rice’ Pudding is gluten-free, vegan, Paleo, and like nothing you’ve ever tried before (unless you’ve had plantain rice pudding before, that is). The medium-ripe plantains give the dish a sweetness that’s subtle, not overwhelming. The cinnamon gives the pudding that familiar aroma and comforting taste (like a porridge), and the raisins and coconut add more sweetness and texture.
Mangu is a traditional Dominican breakfast dish made from cooked green plantains and savory red onion served hot. This is the perfect dish to start your day!
The awesome flavors of sesame, plantain, and dates come together to create a Chewy Plantain Sesame Cookies that are both tasty and good for you. So go ahead and indulge!
Freshly made pasta filled with a lightly spiced mixture of beans and plantain, topped with sautéed red pepper and garlic – yum! It’s easy to make these Beans and Plantain Raviolis look fancy by garnishing with fresh herbs and small mounds of julienned cucumber. The only real effort is getting the pasta dough just right.
We highly recommend downloading our Food Monster App, which is available for both Android and iPhone, and can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. The app has more than 8,000 plant-based, allergy-friendly recipes, and subscribers gain access to ten new recipes per day. Check it out!
Lead image source: Caramelized Plantains With Coconut Cream