Growing up in a Puerto Rican family, plantains aka plátanos were the go to side dish that accompanied most meals. Plantains are bananas that contain more starch than the typical yellow bananas you may eat with breakfast and must be eaten cooked. They are longer in size and have a tough peel that you cannot remove by hand unless you have superhuman strength. Plantains are typically used in many Latin and Caribbean dishes.
The only way I ever knew how to cook plantains was to fry them in oil because that's the way my family made them. It wasn't until I became older that I discovered they could be baked as well and tasted just as good. It took me awhile to start eating baked plantains because I like many other people who love fried food believed that everything fried tastes better. Baked plantains may not be as crispy as their fried counterparts but by eliminating all of the unnecessary oil that comes with frying it turns out to be a low fat food.
If there were green plantains on hand we made them into tostones. Tostones are sliced unripened green plantains that are flattened into round disc shapes and fried until they are crispy and a golden yellow color. Yellow plantains aka plátanos maduros are sweeter in flavor and softer in texture because the plantain is ripe. If your yellow plantains turn black don't throw them away! It doesn't mean that they are spoiled, it means they have ripen even more and are actually sweeter than the yellow ones.
When I want to get creative with plantains I like to make them into cup shapes by using a tostonera or a plantain press. There are two types of tostoneras, one that is thinner to press the plantains into flat tostones and the other has a bowl shaped base that presses it into a cup shape. Both of these are great to have in your kitchen because they make cooking with plantains so much easier.
I decided to bake these plantain cups in the oven and fill them with a black bean chili instead of the typical meat filling. The chili also has some cassava aka yuca in it to change it up. I love eating these stuffed plantain cups since each cup is its own bite sized meal.
Get the recipe for these savory Yuca and Black Bean Chili Stuffed Plantain Cups below!
Stuffed Plantain Cups with Yuca and Black Bean Chili
Get the printable recipe here.
Yield: 6 plantain cups, 6 servings of chili
2 green plantains
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt for tasting
Black Bean and Yuca Chili:
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons recao
1 onion chopped
¼ green pepper chopped
2 cups yuca chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
1 can low sodium black beans drained or 1 ½ cups of black beans
1 can low sodium diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon no salt adobo
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1. In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat.
2. Add recao and let cook for 2 minutes or until fragrant.
3. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
4. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally until yuca is tender and the chili has thickened, about 40 minutes. Set aside.
1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
2. Slice each plantain into 2-inch pieces. You should get about 3 pieces for each plantain.
3. Brush some olive oil on all of the pieces.
4. Place pieces on a perforated baking sheet. If you do not have a perforated baking sheet you can use a regular baking sheet and put a cooling rack in the sheet so that the heat can go underneath the plantains and cook them on both sides.
5. Bake for 20 minutes and remove from the oven.
6. Using a stuffed plantain press, take a plantain and put it in the press and smash the plantain so that it forms into the shape of a cup. Repeat until all of the plantains are in cup shapes. If you do not have a stuffed plantain press you can put the plantains in between two metal muffin pans and press them together to form the cups.
7. Brush on some more olive oil on all of the plantain cups on both sides.