As much as I enjoy playing in the kitchen, I like to balance “project recipes” (I’m looking at you, Paleo Chicken Bastila.) and dead-simple dishes that require almost no work with a big flavor payoff. This Tropical Chopped Salad is part of my series of Super Simple recipes that are made with minimal fuss and just a few ingredients.
When we arrived in Costa Rica a few days ago, our first stop, fresh off the plane, was the grocery store in town because it’s a 30-minute ride over rutted, unpaved roads to get to Casa Muy Grande, our house by the sea. We just can’t make an easy grocery run every day, so we tried to stock up. But we had no plan. We kinda grabbed stuff willy-nilly: avocados, cucumbers, oranges, onions, chicken breasts, ground beef, eggs, bacon, limes, beer and liquor (living with non-paleos this week), and plantains. (And I bought a little packet of cumin, just in case.) With no firm menu, we kinda thought with these base ingredients, we’d figure some stuff out.
This morning, I decided plantains would make an excellent side for scrambled eggs, but I was too lazy to look up a recipe. I just kinda winged it, and it worked out great. So here’s my non-recipe for platanos maduros, Casa Muye Grande-style.
Casa Muy Grande Plaintains
Serves 2-4 | Prep 2 min. | Cook 10 min.
2 ripe plaintains (The darker, the better.; do not use green ones for this recipe.)
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon coconut oil or other cooking fat
lots of salt
pinch of ground cumin
1 fresh lime
1. Peel the plantains. The easiest way is to cut off both ends, then make shallow slits along the ridges along the length of the plantain. Then you can pry off the skin. (Here’s a very detailed video. Good golly! It’s not brain surgery.)
2. Slice plantains into coins. If you’re fancy, cut them on the diagonal. I was not fancy.
3. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Place the plantain slices in the pan, add the water, and cover. The water should steam and soften the plantains. Keep an eye on it! When the water is evaporated, test a plantain and see if they’re almost soft. Yes? Proceed to step 4. No? Add a few more tablespoons water and continue to steam under tender.
4. When the plantains are tender, add the cooking fat to the pan and shake it around to distribute the oil under the plantain slices. Reduce heat to medium-high. Sprinkle the slices generously with salt and let the bottom side cook until browned, about 1-3 minutes. Flip the slices and cook the other side until golden, another minute or two.
5. Sprinkle a pinch of cumin over the slices, add more salt, then stir with a wooden spoon to coat each slice with spice and fat. Remove to a serving plate and squeeze fresh lime juice over the top.
Bonus Condiment: We’ve been enjoying Salsa Lizano on just about everything: bunless burgers, avocado and cabbage salad, plantains, ceviche. It include onions, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, and spices — but I suspected it also includes non-paleo ingredients so Dave and I typed the ingredients list into translate.google.com. Hmmm…
water, sugar, iodized salt, vegetable concentrate, molasses, spices (with mustard and celery), modified corn starch (thickener), acetic acid (acidulant), Potassium Chloride, chile pepper, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, sodium benzoate (0.09%) as preservative. Treated with ionizing energy.
I’m OK with that for now. It’s the Costa Rican version of ketchup, and it kicks ass. When in Rome, ya know…
Another nutrition note: Plantains are a pretty dense source of carbs. I’m using them as post-workout fuel on vacation, but at home, they’re a once-in-a-while treat. For context, here’s how they stack up against sweet potatoes and bananas.
Sweet Potato, 1 cup baked: carbs 41g | sugar 13 g
Plantain, 1 cup sliced: carbs 48g | sugar 22 g
Banana, 1 cup sliced: carbs 34g | sugar 18 g
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