Roasted Plantains

Written by Marilyn Hawkes Category: Veg Out Issue: January 2018

photo by Angela Adams
photo by Angela Adams
Bananas and plantains are siblings within the musa plant genus, but no one would mistake them for twins. Bananas are mostly eaten raw and have brazen natural sweetness. Meanwhile, plantains are smaller, starchier and latently sweet – you’ve got to cook them to coax out the sugar.

So it goes at The Breadfruit & Rum Bar, where chef/owner Danielle Leoni’s roasted plantains ($8) perform equally well as a delicately sweet dessert or small plate appetizer. First, Leoni peels the ripe fruit and slices them into oblong medallions. She then gently sautés the plantains in olive oil to caramelize the flesh until it turns a “beautiful reddish brown.” When the plantains achieve a crunchy outer layer, she pops them in the oven to finish, later tapping freshly ground cinnamon over the wedges to create a beguiling fragrance akin to homemade apple pie.

The roasted plantains have the tender consistency of a baked apple, but with a crisp and sticky shell. Leoni serves them with mango chutney dolled up with garlic, fresh ginger, red bell pepper and raisins, creating a savory-sweet collision of flavors and textures. “It’s incredibly popular,” Leoni says. “Forks are going to collide over these plantains.”