When I traveled to Puerto Rico last June, we lived off plantains, beans and rice and fresh tropical fruit (guava, mango, papaya) for the duration of the trip (oh, and piña coladas, too). 😉 Plantains, if you’re not familiar, are the
bossier older sister starchier, less-sweet relative of the banana. You can find them in the grocery store, disguised as gigantic bananas, where they are usually sold underripe with yellow skin. 😛 Before eating, you should let them hang out with their sweeter, fruitier younger sister (i.e. bananas, avocados, etc), on the counter top for about a week, because they are best when the skin is almost all black. Unsurprisingly, they are good for you too! One medium plantain contains about 4 grams of fiber, 40% of your daily value of Vitamin A and 50% of your daily value of Vitamin C (yayyy!) and clocks in at about 220 calories. Fried plantains are one of my fave things EVER, and they always bring memories of PR sunshine and the glorious sauna temperatures. With the North Pole weather coming to Boston yet again, I needed to channel some of those 86°F / 30°C and humid vibes to commence the melting of the 10 foot snow mounds outside. Time to heat things up, Boston! I based this vegan and gluten-free dish on one of my other fave quick and easy dishes, Baked Sweet Potato and Spicy Black Beans, that basically builds off of a can of black beans and a jar of salsa (some of my fave pantry items to keep on hand at all times – lots of great dishes have started that way). To heat things up in the Land of the Permanent Polar Vortex, I wanted to create a black bean and veggie rice bowl that would make a Chipotle burrito bowl look like it belonged on the dollar menu at McDonald’s. I’ve added a fun twist by throwing in a few handfuls of baby kale into the mix to up the green factor – YUM! This dish turned out fantastic – warming, spicy and a little unexpected. It’s sure to start the snow melting (at least it will get your feet moving, because having a dance party while cooking this dish is a MUST). I mean, I’m not sure if it was my sweet dance moves while cooking or the fact that the flavors got a little wild in the saucepan, but my kitchen windows were completely steamed up last night. That’s a good start, right? 😉 😛
Black Bean, Baby Kale & Sweet Potato Rice Bowl with Fried Plantains
- 3 plantains
- 1 15.5-oz can of black beans
- 1 16-oz jar of salsa (I got hot because I love the spicy – but you do you)
- 1 (leftover) baked sweet potato, cooled and diced (or 1 cup of frozen sweet potato chunks)
- Two handfuls baby kale leaves (about 3.5 oz)
- 1 cup veggie broth
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp Cataluna spice*
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- Avocado, cilantro, and/or lime wedge for topping
*You can use whatever spice blend you like. This one has cinnamon, pimeton and cayenne as the main components – but any Chipotle/Cajun/Creole/whatever you love spice blend would work here, too!
Step One: Get your black bean simmerin’. Add the black beans, salsa, sweet potato, spices, and veggie broth to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, add the kale leaves and then turn down to simmer. Allow to simmer covered on low for ~25 minutes (however long it takes for you to prep and fry the plantains).
Step Two: Prep your plantains. Peel the plantains by cutting a slit down the length of the peel, and remove both ends. You’ll be able to easily unwrap your plantain. Next, slice the plantain at an angle for frying.
Step Three: Heat the coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat. Place your plantain slices in the pan, and fry both sides until they are browned. When your plantains are done frying to golden brown perfection, place them onto a dinner plate covered with a paper towel to allow any excess oil to drain off. You may need to do this in several batches – I did one plantain at a time.
Step Four: Assemble. Once all of your components are done, put a generous scoop of black beans over brown rice (or quinoa, or whatever your fave grain of the moment is). Top with the fried plantains, sliced avocado and a squirt of lime. Add chopped cilantro if you’d like (I was not feeling it, but I’m not a big cilantro fan). Other great ideas for topping: vegan or real grated cheese, a dollop of Tofutti sour cream/Greek yogurt, extra salsa – really whatever you like to top your burritos with.
Step Five: Enjoy! 😀 😀 😀
Good news – you just made the most bangin’ burrito/taco filling EVER. You can wrap some leftovers in a tortilla shell for your lunch tomorrow – wooohooo! I love it when the leftovers make exceptional Lunch Packs (Lunch Packs are basically when you transfer the leftovers directly into individual-size portions in separate storage containers for a grab n’ go moment the next day before work/school). Seriously – this was SO GOOD. Simple, easy, and reminiscent of sweating my butt off in Puerto Rico. Given the fact that it was a balmy -5°F / -20°C this morning when I woke up, that is very necessary right now. Add a piña colada with a cocktail umbrella on the side and cheers, baby – you’ve got one amazing, healthy meal! Yum. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 😀
Stay warm! And I hope you all are having a great Tuesday!
PS: Think Spring – this brought a smile to my face today! 😀