By Sandy Leibowitz
(The Nosher via JTA) — One of the things I like most about plantains (also known as platanos, tostones or patacones) is that you can enjoy them through multiple stages of ripeness. When they are fully green, they have a higher starch content, which makes them ideal for frying — and subsequently makes some killer latkes. You can also turn the green plantains into fries or chips.
When they start to turn yellow, plantains become easier to peel and sweeter. You can mash them like you would potatoes when you crave something a little different. At this stage, you can also roast them alongside your root vegetables.
When plantains are yellow and have black markings, they are fully ripe and taste like a regular banana that has been caramelized with a hint of maple syrup. At this stage they are delicious when fried because they are softer and melt in your mouth. They can be wrapped in lamb or beef bacon for that sweet and salty effect, or eaten straight up at the kitchen counter while the rest are frying. Not that I would ever do this of course.
Here, I decided to combine my Jewish and Latina heritages – as I often do – and make a Latin-infused kugel. This recipe makes a good portion for 6-8 people as a side dish, but if you want to double the recipe you can easily do so, just use a 9-by-13-inch pan instead of an 8- or 9-inch round pan. Feel free to mix up your favorite spices and herbs, as plantains really can take on many flavors.
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