Sliced plantain sautéed in vegetable oil. A banana is on the left; plantain on the right.

Plantains are not indigenous to this hemisphere; but, because they and bananas play such an integral role in Latin cuisine I have incuded them here. Plaintains are in the same family as bananas, but you don’t eat them raw—they need to be cooked. Plantains are longer with thicker skins and they appear to be bruised when ripe. Plantains provide vitamin C and potassium and are about 125 calories per cup (provided you don’t use olive oil to prepare them). You can buy plantains at many grocery stores. Both green and brown (ripe) plantains can be used.

mofongo Mofongo, the Puerto Rican "national dish," made with mashed and fried green plantains mixed with oil, garlic and sometimes bacon or shrimp. It's dense--very filling.

Simple recipe:

2-3 ripe plantains (they get darker as they ripen)

Slice into stripes or whatever design you like

Sautee in vegetable or olive oil for about 8-10 minutes. We like them crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle.

These taste great plain, but you can add salt, pepper, chili power, nuts, etc.

Plantains are also good mashed and served with oatmeal, on graham crackers, or yoghurt.

Green Plantains:

Cut plantains into 1 inch pieces.

Heat 1/2 T vegetable oil in skillet over medium heat.

Fry plantains for three minutes.

Using a potato masher, mash each round until flat and then flip, adding more oil if pan is dry

Cook another 3 minutes or until nicely brown.

Salt to taste.