I know we’re in the “holiday season” when most people are looking for holiday recipes (see mine here), but I wanted to send you on a brief vacation to the tropics with a couple of easy recipes guaranteed warm up your winter meals with a bit of summer sun.
First up is something I threw together never intending to write a blog post about it, but as these unplanned dishes have a way of doing, this one was so good that my family insisted I should post it. Basically, all I did was make Caribbean black beans with pineapple juice instead of orange juice for the simple reason that I had a bottle of pineapple juice in the fridge and didn’t want to take the time to squeeze a couple of oranges. While the beans were cooking, I realized that I had a fresh pineapple handy, so I chopped up about a quarter of it and added it at the end. Maybe it’s just because we love pineapple in bean dishes (adding it is one of my “sneaky mom” tricks to get daughter E to eat just about anything), but we loved the combination of pungent allspice and sweet pineapple.
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1/2 bell pepper, chopped
- 1 small jalapeno or chile pepper, seeded and chopped (optional)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons peeled, chopped ginger root
- 2 cans black beans (about 3 cups cooked), rinsed well and drained
- 3/4 cup unsweetened pineapple juice
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (more or less, to taste)
- 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple
- salt and black pepper, to taste
- Saute the onion in a non-stick pan, adding a tablespoon of water if needed to keep it from sticking. (Add a pinch of baking soda to speed up browning, if desired.) Cook for 3-5 minutes, until beginning to turn golden. Add the peppers, garlic, and chopped ginger and cook another 2 minutes.
- Add the drained black beans, pineapple juice, thyme, allspice, and cayenne (to taste). Cover and cook for 15 minutes on low, adding a splash of water if it starts to dry out.
- Add the pineapple and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes. Serve over brown rice or quinoa.
One day E came home from school insisting that I buy her a plantain. Her Colombian Spanish teacher had described fried plantains in such glowing terms that E wanted to try them immediately. So on my next shopping trip, I dutifully picked up a plantain, knowing that somehow I was going to have to “fry” it. But it’s been decades since I actually fried something, so there was not much chance any real frying was going to take place. What to do? Well, Chef Google came to my rescue when I called, with Oven Baked Sweet Plantains. I looked at the recipe, got the gist of it, and then forgot all the details as I waited two weeks for my plantain to get riper. When I was ready to oven-fry, I relied on memory, so my baking temperature is lower and cooking time is longer than that recipe specifies. But my plantains came out perfectly–sweet and soft on the inside and a tiny bit crispy on the outside–and I think the lower temperature is less likely to result in burned plantains. (The edges of the plantains get burned easily, so that’s a real concern.)
We loved these so much. I hate to think that I’ve been missing out on “fried” plantains all my life, but we’ll be having them often from now on. They make an excellent side dish–sort of like sweet French fries–totally unadorned, though I know some people put salt or cinnamon on them. I may try them sometime with just a bare sprinkle of cinnamon, but I wouldn’t want to do anything to hide the naturally sweet, caramelized flavor of the fruit.
- 1 very ripe plantain for every 2 people (look for large black spots)
- canola oil, in a sprayer or applied with brush or paper towel (optional, but plantains are “sticky” so use if your bakeware isn’t non-stick)
- Preheat oven to 375.
- Cut off the ends of the plantain. Make a cut through the skin down the length of the plantain, and remove the peel. Cut the plantain into 1/2-inch thick diagonal (slanted) slices.
- Line baking sheet with a silicone mat or spray or wipe it lightly with oil. Place the plantain slices on it in one layer. Bake for 15 minutes or until they are browned on the bottom. Be careful–they can burn quickly. Turn slices over. Watch them carefully and bake until both sides are golden, about 25 minutes total. Serve warm.
More Pineapple, Black Beans, and Plantains (Though Not Necessarily Together):
Black Bean-Pineapple Soup Stew Chili right here at FatFree Vegan Kitchen
Caribbean Black Beans and Rice by Food Blogga
Brazilian Brown Rice and Black Beans from Savvy Vegetarian
Caribbean Curry Black Eyed Peas With Plantains at Post Punk Kitchen
Matoke~ Kenyan Plantain Green Bananas Stew from simply.food
I hope these simple recipes bring you some Tropical warmth this cold December. And hey, if you’re still shopping for gifts (I know I am), please check out my favorite cooking gadgets in my Amazon Store, where your purchase will help keep my family in plantains this winter! 😉