Fried Plantains with Avocado

What is a plantain anyway? A savory banana? Well it is a banana; botanically bananas and plantains are of the same species. While bananas are usually eaten raw, plantains typically have to be cooked, either boiled, baked, or fried. For this recipe, I fry them in some canola oil with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

This recipe is an adaptation of a dish I had at Caracas, a Venezuelan restaurant in the East Village. The original dish was the La del Gato arepa, which included “guayanés cheese, fried sweet plantains and avocado slices.” I’ve interpreted the dish into a salad of sorts, with the addition caramelized onions.

A note on selecting plantains: they’re fine to eat with either green, yellow, or brown skin. For this recipe, I prefer one that’s very ripe. It should be a little soft with brown or browning skin. You can make this dish with an unripe plantain, one that’s green and firm, but the result will be drier and less sweet. Green plantains are good for making plantain chips.

A note on selecting ricotta salata: I chose a firm, crumbly white cheese called ricotta salata. It’s similar to feta, but not quite as milky and little more salty. However, feta is a fine substitute.

Ingredients

1 small yellow onion, sliced into thin strips
1 tbsp. and 3/4 cup canola oil
1 large plantain, ripe with browning skin, cut at an angle into 1/3 inch thick slices
1 ripe avocado, sliced into strips
Salt and pepper
Ricotta salata cheese

Preparation
1. Heat 1 tbsp. of canola oil in a small frying pan on medium/high heat. Add the chopped onions and cook until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste when they’re almost done.
2. While the onions cook, heat 3/4 cup of canola oil in a large skillet on medium/high heat (the oil should be about 1/3 inch deep). Add the plantains when the oil starts to crackle. Move them around a lot initially to keep them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Fry each side until they are very brown, 8 – 10 minutes.
3. Once they’re fried, place them on a paper towel to drain off some of the oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
4. Assemble the plate with the caramelized onions, avocado, and plantains. Sprinkle with the ricotta salata cheese.

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