Plantain is a cultivar of the musa, commonly known as banana. Plantain have a higher sugar content, are bigger in size, have a dark yellow colour and has a dense rich pulp covered with a thick skin.
Although it is commonly associated with African and afro Caribbean food this cultivar is actually from south East Asia.
It made its way to the Americas during the Spanish colony when intense trade commercial trade between New Spain and Asia promoted an intense exchange of products including these magnificent fruit that came to stay and become an essential ingredient of the Afro Caribbean cuisine.
Plantain in the Americas is prepared in various ways, although is seldom eaten in its own. A popular way of eating it is in crisps, made while the fruit is still unripe, and they can be salted or sweetened with sugar.
When ripe, platain can also be sliced in thick portions and fried, then served with black beans and rice.
In Mexico plantain is also boiled and mashed, then mixed with flour to make a “dough”, small portions are taken and flattened, then a piece of cheese or a tablespoon of bean paste is placed at the centre and covered with more “dough”, each piece is fried and served with fraiche cream and salasa.
In Guatemala that same “dough” is seasoned with cinnamon and sugar, filled with a bean paste and served hot with caster sugar sprinkled on top.
I decided to create a salad in celebration of this magnificent fruit, I’ve made it many times including a birthday party in Wales where it came down wonderfully well… that a bit of sunshine in plain autumn!
To make a generous bowl you will need:
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 cucumber
- 1 small head of iceberg lettuce
- 1 small white onion
- 1 medium ripe plantain
- 1/2 tbsp olive oil
For the vinaigrette:
- 4 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 tbsp of honey
- 1/2 tsp mustard
- 1 tbsp of apple vinegar
- salt & pepper
Wash the lettuce, cucumber and bell pepper. Shred the lettuce by hand. Slice the cucumber and bell pepper.
Slice the onion in half-moons, not too thinly.
Peel and slice the plantain, preheat a non-stick pan and add the 1/2 tbsp of olive oil, when hot place the plantain slices and cook for about two minutes on each side to help release the sugars, you will soon notice a caramel like smell indicating they’re ready.
As soon as the plantain is ready mix into the bowl with the rest of the vegetables and add the vinaigrette, serve warm.