Nov. 4, 2001 – Plantains are as much loved in Hispanic cultures as potatoes are in European-American cooking. While restaurants on the U.S. mainland are caught up in a craze for garlic mashed potatoes, try this tropical-variation recipe that calls for ripe plantains instead.
Native to the tropics, plantains can be eaten as a vegetable dish or as a sweet dessert. When green-skinned, plantains are starchy and have a taste comparable to a potato. The pulp is ivory in color and firm. By the time the skins are yellow, especially with several brownish-black spots, the pulp inside is soft and sweet tasting and so is used for making desserts.
To peel a plantain, use a sharp knife to cut off the top and bottom ends of the fruit first. Then, with the tip of the knife, make one slit in the skin from top to bottom. Beginning from this slit, use your thumb and fingers to work the peel away from the pulp of the fruit. Less-ripe plantains have tougher skins and are best peeled under cold water to avoid bruising.
Serve this quick-fix recipe for garlic mashed plantains with your favorite beef, chicken or fish entrée.
Garlic Mashed Plantains
1 tablespoon salt dissolved in 4 cups water
3 ripe plantains
1/4 cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Bring salted water to a boil in a large saucepan. Cut plantains in half. Make a slit in the peel lengthwise but do not remove peel. Add cut plantains to boiling salted water. Cover saucepan with lid and boil plantains rapidly for 20 minutes. Drain water from plantains. Cool slightly, then remove peel. Place plantains in a mixing bowl. Beat in milk, butter, garlic, salt and black pepper. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 165 calories, 6 gms fat (32 percent fat calories), 16 mg cholesterol and 422 mg sodium.
Nutrition note: Plantains are a good source of potassium, dietary fiber and vitamins A and C.

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