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One of Puerto Rico's greatest contributions to the Caribbean diet are plátanos, or plantains. These savory members of the banana family are starchier and lower in sugar than their sweeter cousins. More similar to a potato than to a sweet fruit, plantains aren't meant for enjoying raw. Instead, they are often fried or baked, and they're popular in savory dishes in Western Africa and the Caribbean countries. Plantains are also tasty mashed, barbecued, roasted, boiled or stewed in soups, or even as pancakes.

Plantains are eaten both green and ripe, whole or sliced. The leaves of the plantain plant are often used as a wrap for foods that are then boiled, roasted, or baked?for example, in pasteles, one of Puerto Rico's most prized special-occasion treats. Pasteles are meat-filled pastry wrapped in plantain leaves and boiled or steamed. Labor-intensive to make, pasteles tend to be served mostly at Christmas.

An easier plantain specialty is a side dish made from green plantains called tostones, which Emeril serves up twice-friend and seasoned with lime.


Plantains are available at most supermarkets, and are often shelved near the bananas.

This post was inspired by Emeril Green.