Plantains are not a food I grew up eating in Texas. In fact, the first time I ate plantains was in a Cuban restaurant just a few years ago. But eating a Paleo diet means no grains or legumes so I have been trying a few new foods to fill in the gaps. My problem with plantains has been in trying to judge their state of ripeness and then cooking them properly.
Plantains, which are a staple food in tropical regions of the world, are usually inexpensive. I have purchased them for as little as $0.19/lb. at Costco. They are similar to bananas but are usually larger, firmer and lower in sugar. Plantains have about 220 calories and are high in potassium and fiber. The taste and texture varies dramatically with their state of ripeness. And unlike bananas, which are usually eaten raw, plantains are ordinarily cooked. When they are green, plantains have a taste and texture similar to potatoes and can be used in much the same way. White potatoes are excluded from the Paleo Diet. They are also categorized as a “nightshade” which can be problematic for anyone with an autoimmune disease. Plantains can be a good alternative to white potatoes. But when they are allowed to ripen fully (which I have found can take quite a while) plantains are very sweet and make a good dessert ingredient.
After a few mishaps I have finally figured out how to cook them in their ripe state. I do not like overripe bananas. By the time they are almost black, bananas are gross. But plantains are good up until they are almost completely black. The following recipe is to be used only with very ripe plantains (dark yellow with speckles and black spots). It is very simple, takes only a few minutes to prepare and is 100% Paleo. I like it as a dessert or as a part of breakfast.
2 very ripe plantains
3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
1/4 cup water
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (or to taste)
Peel the plantains, cut them in half and then half again lengthwise. Heat the coconut oil in a wide bottomed pan on medium-high heat for a minute or two. Gently place the plantains in the pan and sauté on medium-low heat for about 8 minutes, being careful not to burn them. Turn the plantains over, add the water and cover and simmer on low for another 8-10 minutes or until soft all the way through. Once the plantains have cooked down and the water has been absorbed, sprinkle with cinnamon on all sides. Serve warm.