You probably already know that I’m originally from the Virgin Islands. Well, there, like most other Caribbean islands, plantains warrant their own food group. We’d fry them, bake them, boil them and eat them with any kind of meat or side dish for any occasion. And even now that I live in Georgia, I try to find plantains any chance I get — often from Walmart. When I feel lazy, I buy the frozen kind, but they are SO much better fresh.
If you’re not familiar with plantains, what rock have you been hiding under?! I’m kidding 🙂
A plantain looks very similar to a banana, but it is not at all the same. Plantains are usually quite a bit larger and thicker than bananas, with thicker skin as well. They also are eaten cooked, not raw, and they are more starchy than sweet. And if you find a black plantain in the store, that doesn’t mean it has gone bad. In fact, black plantains are among the sweetest there are. You’ll find peels that are green, yellow (both often spotted with black) and black, and you can eat them at any stage of ripeness. Chiquita has come up with a helpful labeling system to show you how to best prepare plantains depending on their color:
Green plantains are very starchy, like a potato, and can be fried. Yellow plantains are a bit sweeter and softer and can be grilled. Black plantains are the sweetest and softest and may be baked.
In the islands, we often fried plantain, and this will sound crazy, but I loved to eat mine with ketchup. However, we also boiled them, but ONLY when they are still green. We called it “green banana” and this preparation is incredibly filling because of all the starch retained in the unripened green fruit. This recipe is incredibly simple to make:
Boiled Green Plantain
- Green plantains
- Salt or other spices to taste
Put the green plantains in a large pot and cover them with water. Add about 1 cup of milk to the water, along with a dash of salt, black pepper or any other spices you’d like to include.
Boil for about 30 minutes. Then peel, slice and enjoy!
It may not look like much coming out of the pot, but it’s a great way to add an unexpected starch to a meal. When I was growing up, we ate green banana with other distinctively Caribbean dishes like saltfish (highly salted Cod fish prepared in a variety of ways), fungi (sort of a soft dumpling made of cornmeal), ducana (I’ll have to explain this one another day :)), and peas & rice (self-explanatory, right?).
They’re really nutritious and great for you, and because they have such a thick skin that is peeled and not eaten, this is one of those produce items that I personally don’t worry so much about buying organic. Plantains are full of vitamins and minerals, particularly vitamins A and C along with 4g of dietary fiber in each serving. And I grew up thinking they were just delicious!
If you’ve seen plantains in the store and have never had the guts to try them, here’s an incentive. You can head to Chiquita’s new plantain website to find out more information about them along with tons of great recipes. I admit this is one website I’m keeping in my arsenal because although we eat plantains fairly often, we tend to prepare them only one or two different ways. I can’t wait to try grilling them (this sounds absolutely mouth-watering) or even this recipe for a dessert: Plantain tarts! I don’t know if I can fit that last recipe into my weight loss journey (20 lbs. and counting!), but I have to try it at least once!
Fresh plantains aren’t available at every Walmart, but if you can’t find them there, check the frozen section or try an International market in your area. Trust me when I say you won’t regret it.
Disclosure: I am a member of the Walmart Moms program. I was provided with compensation for sharing the deliciousness (is that a word?) of plantains with you. Clearly, since I grew up eating them regularly, this was not a stretch 🙂 Participation is voluntary and, as usual, all opinions are my own.