Plantains are an ingredient I've never worked with and not because I didn't want to. I'll admit to some slight intimidation by the unknown, but I think I'm pretty adventurous so when I saw them at BJ's Wholesale Club for 39¢ apiece, I just had to give them a try.
I know a little bit about them from watching Food Network. For instance, I knew that you need a more unripened plantain for frying (tostones). At this time, I'm not really about frying. So, even though tostones look really really good, I had to come up with something else. And in fact, the plantains I bought were probably already too ripe for that anyway.
So I peeled them. Make no mistake, plantains are NOT bananas. The skin is much tougher and more difficult to remove. It's not that big a deal but it was a little bit of a surprise. Your eye sees a banana and expects something. If that makes any sense. Then I sliced them slightly on a bias.
I decided I would do a quick saute in some vegetable oil. I thought olive oil would be too strong a flavor and I think I made the right move. And since plantains are tropical, I tried to keep with that theme and dressed them only with some salt, pepper and lime zest.
They caramelize and change color very quickly. So that is really nice if you are in a hurry for a side dish. They literally took less than 10 minutes from pan to plate. And when they were done, I squeezed the lime juice over the top. It's a very nice acid punch and the flavors married perfectly. I used them in place of potatoes one night and Nick and I both found them really enjoyable and a really nice change of pace. So give it a shot. And don't fear the unknown!