Caribbean Plantain + Pinto Stew


I used to think plantains were just old bananas that supermarkets kept in stock in hopes that people would buy them to make banana bread. When I moved to Brooklyn and noticed that even the smallest quickie mart carried these black bananas I just thought people in Brooklyn must really have a thing for banana bread. Silly me! As the rest of the world probably knows already, plantains are a major component of Latin American and Caribbean cuisine, and are used in soups, stews, and desserts. I was completely blown away by the combination of flavors in this stew–both sweet and spicy–and owe many of my thanks to the plantains. This recipe definitely goes on my list of top favorites.

1 large yellow onion, chopped finely
1 yellow pepper, chopped finely
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 plum tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup cooking sherry (any cooking wine will do, or sub vegetable broth)
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 (15 oz) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed OR 2/3 cup dried pintos, soaked overnight
2 ripe plantains, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise, and sliced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. If using the soaked beans: place beans in a pot with fresh water and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and let simmer, covered for 60 minutes. If using canned beans, continue directly to step 2.
2. In a soup pot over medium heat, saute the onions, peppers, jalapenos, and garlic for 5-7 minutes, until the vegetables are softened.
3. Add the tomatoes, sherry, salt, and cumin. Cover and bring to a boil, then let simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the tomatoes are cooked and broken down.
4. Add the pinto beans and plantains. Cover and simmer for another 20-25 minutes.
5. Ladle into serving bowls and garnish with cilantro.

Source: Inspired by a recipe in “Veganomicon”

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