Vegan | Gluten-free
by Jenna Garcia
Today’s recipe is a favorite in our home: Platanos Fritos con Frijoles Negros y Crema, or, Fried Plantains with Black Beans and Cream. (Sounds so much better in Spanish, right?) If you haven’t eaten fried plantains, you are in for a treat! This is a traditional breakfast dish in El Salvador, but makes for a delicious meal any time of the day. I owe my deep gratitude to my salvadoreña mother-in-law for introducing me to this tasty and simple dish. The plantains are unexpectedly delicious and different in texture and flavor from bananas, or anything else I’ve eaten. With the gravy-like black beans and a hearty dollop of crema, this dish is perfectly balanced.
Plantains look like large bananas but are, in fact, much starchier, almost like a cross between a banana and a potato. You can purchase them at most Latin American, Asian and speciality markets, and they are very affordable! (I bought 6 for less than $3!) Plantains are a staple in Latin American cuisine, and are prepared in a variety of ways, but frying is the most common. Greener plantains are very starchy and savory, but as they ripen, plantains become softer and more sweet. For sweet plantains, like the type I used in this recipe, choose plantains that are mostly yellow and black. Don’t worry, unlike bananas, black spots on plantains do not mean they are going bad! They will just be sweeter.
ormally, you would serve this dish with a traditional Salvadoran sour cream, but for this recipe, I developed a vegan sour cream. This cashew-based vegan crema is creamy, smooth and zesty. The addition of the nutritional yeast gives it a cheesy quality and yellowish hue, close to the color of real crema salvadoreña. While not quite the real thing, this fantastic vegan replacement will definitely give you the satisfaction of sour cream.
Bon appétit! Or, as they say en español, “¡buen provecho!”
Platanos Fritos con Frijoles Negros
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- ½ yellow onion, finely diced
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 2 cans black beans*
- Salt to taste
- 4 plantains
- Grapeseed oil, for sauteeing**
* If using canned beans, be sure to use the liquid as well. You can also cook your own beans from scratch. If using homemade beans, use 1 ½ cups of beans and 2 cups of bean liquid.
** Can substitute for any other high smoking point oil.
- To make the beans: Heat coconut oil in frying pan over medium heat. Add yellow onion and saute until translucent. Add garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute.
- While the onions are sauteing, add beans and their liquid to blender and pulse until blended but not pureed. (How finely the beans are blended are based on personal preference. I like them to be a bit chunky.)
- Add beans to the onion blend and cook over medium heat, stirring often, until consistency is like a thick gravy, about 10-15 minutes.
- To make fried plantains: Slice off both ends of each plantain and slice long-ways down the plantain, cutting only deep enough to slice through the peel. Remove the peel and set aside. Two options for slicing the plantains: 1) Cut plantain into equal halves short-ways then slice each long-ways to create four equal-sized pieces, or 2) Slice into rounds about ½ inch thick.
- Heat a saute pan over medium heat, add enough grapeseed oil to cover at least ½ inch of the bottom of pan. Heat until oil is hot and sizzles when you flick a little water in it.
- Working in batches, add plantain slices to pan. Cook on each side for about 3-5 minutes or until golden. (May need to reduce or increase cooking time depending on the thickness of the plantain slices.)
- Remove plantains from pan onto paper towel-lined plate. Serve plantains with a side of black beans and vegan crema (see recipe below). Enjoy!
Vegan Crema (Sour Cream)
- 1 cup raw cashews, soaked*
- ½ cup water
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
* The longer the cashews are soaked, the smoother and creamier the vegan crema will be. If you’re like me, however, you don’t always plan a full day in advance. In that case, give the cashews a quick soak in warm water, drain and be sure to blend a little longer to ensure it is super smooth.
- Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy and smooth. Store any extra in the fridge for up to a week. Enjoy!
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