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Plantains and a Healthier Puerto Rican Dish

Plantains and a Healthier Puerto Rican Dish

Plantains are like a banana but with less sugar and starchier. They are used a lot in the island of Puerto Rico and other Latin countries.

You can get 3 kinds of plantains at the grocery store.

  • Green plantains: which it’s starchy as a potato and it is very firm. You can use them to make a soup, or plantain chips (again baked not fried). It is difficult to peel because of the thicker skin, so it is best to peel them under water.
  • Yellow plantains: Can have some brown or black spots. Taste a little sweeter and have a firm texture.
  • Black Plantains: Sweeter version. Good to make a dessert.

Back home they use all kinds for salty to sweet dishes but most of these popular dishes are deep-fried. You can use them in healthier recipes and enjoy their benefits. Plantains are low in sodium, have a lot of potassium, fiber and high in Vitamin A.

I got inspired by a famous Puerto Rican dish called “Piñón” which looks like a lasagna but instead of using lasagna pasta, you use deep-fried plantains. In this recipe, you’re avoiding the deep frying process and incorporating healthier ingredients (like lean meat).

For this recipe you’ll need yellow –black plantains

Healthier Plantain and Meat “Lasagna”

  • 3 ripe plantains
  • 1 pound lean ground meat (it can be beef, turkey, chicken or venison)
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 3 small red bell peppers or half red bell pepper.
  • 2 Garlic cloves passed through a garlic press or minced
  • 1 cup no salt added tomato sauce
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp. fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2 tsp. capers
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. ground turmeric
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ tsp. garlic power
  • ¼ tsp. saffron (optional)
  • 1/8 tsp. ground pepper
  • Chopped fresh basil or dried for topping before going into the oven.

Peel the plantains and slice them lengthwise (making approximately 4 slices per plantain). Tip for peeling the plantains: When you cut them, the best way is to cut the top and bottom of the plantain first. After, you can use the tip of a knife and run it along the skin lengthwise.

Place them in a prepared baking dish (covered with aluminum foil and spray with butter cooking spray). Also spray the slices with the cooking spray and broil them in low for less than 5 minutes per side.

Slices ready for the oven (broil in low).

Out of the oven.

Take them out, set them aside and set the oven at 350°F.

Cook the meat in a medium saucepan over high heat, covered and adding a little water or chicken stock (2 tbsp.) first to avoid from sticking. Break the meat with a wooden spoon or fork and cook until it turns brown (5 minutes). Strain the meat and return it to the saucepan. Add the rest of the ingredients (except the chopped basil), mix them well, cover and cook over medium-high heat for approximately 10 minutes.

Prepare a baking dish with cooking spray and add one layer of plantains (6 slices), add the meat as another layer and finally the rest of the plantain slices as the final layer and sprinkle with chopped basil. Bake for 25-30 minutes.

Finished product! Let cool for 10 minutes before cutting.

This is one serving (of 6).

Enjoy this dish with a side salad.

Nutrition Information (using lean ground beef)

267 calories ~ 5.7 grams of Fat ~ 2.5 grams of Saturated Fat ~ 43.3 mg of Cholesterol ~ 192 grams of Sodium ~ 491 grams of Potassium ~ 39 grams of Carbohydrates ~ 3.8 grams of Dietary Fiber ~ 18 grams of Sugar ~ 17 grams of Protein.