Preheat oven to 425°F.
Using sharp knife, cut both ends off plantains. Cut shallow slit down long seam of plantains, cutting only as deep as peel. Brush plantains with oil and arrange on parchment paper–lined baking sheet.
Bake, turning halfway, for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown and tender enough to pierce with a fork.
Meanwhile, in medium bowl, stir together rice, black beans, refried beans and cotija cheese until blended.
Let plantains cool slightly and remove peel completely. Cut a slit, lengthwise, down curved side of each plantain, being careful not to cut all the way through. Using 2 forks, gently pull each plantain open to form a “canoe” shape. Using flat side of fork, press down on plantain to widen the canoe for filling. Transfer back to baking sheet and season with salt.
Evenly stuff each plantain canoe with rice mixture, dividing evenly. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until filling is heated through.
Sprinkle with tomato and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges.
Alternatively, serve stuffed plantains with drizzle of sour cream and chopped avocado.
Plantains are often comparable to an oversized banana, and they vary in a range of colors from green to yellow to almost black. They are usually treated like a potato rather than a fruit. In order to cook with them successfully this is the best way to think of them. They are usually prepared by being fried or baked and are served as chunks or thinner chips and as a side dish throughout the Caribbean. They’re also considered a staple in Africa, South East Asia, the Pacific Islands and in Central and South America.
If the plantain is green that means it is unripe. It will feel hard and have an earthy inside. At this unripe stage, they are most similar to a vegetable and are not sweet at all. Throughout this stage they’re considerably starchy and should be used for slicing or frying to make chips. Green plantain can also be boiled and mashed to be used as a starchy base but they can also be sliced into stews similar to a potato. When they are green peeling them tend to be very difficult and the sap will stain anything and everything.. Be careful while preparing them.
The next stage of the plantain is the yellow phase where it tends to get softer and sweeter. When fully ripe the plantain turns black and very soft. Riper plantain can also be fried (the flesh caramelizes when ripe, different to the chips made with green plantain), grilled in strips or baked in its skin like a potato. If you fry a ripe plantain it will be crisp and brown on the outside and a soft custard-like interior. A baked plantain can be eaten as a savory or a sweet dish depending on the toppings or garnishes that you choose. A delicious savory dish to try would be this: Dominican Sancocho Stew. If you are looking for an option to satisfy your sweet tooth then try: Plantain and Rice Rellenitos.
Do not expect to peel a green plantain like you would a banana. Since it is still so unripe the skin is liable to come off and leave pith on the flesh. This pith will not cook so you should definitely remove it. The best way to prepare a green plantain is to cut it into chunks and then slice off the skin and pith with a knife. You should cook the plantain very quickly once you’ve prepared it since it will start to oxidize.
Yellow plantains can usually be peeled like a banana. Whatever color of plantain you use, cut off both ends, as the flesh is usually tough.
If you want to fry the plantain then cut each end off the plantain and peel back the skin. Cut into ½ cm slices on a diagonal to give you a larger surface area. Heat the oil in a frying pan until hot. Fry the plantain on each side for a couple of mins until it starts to caramelize, ensuring it doesn’t burn. If you do prefer to fry the plantain then you should try our Arroz con Coco and Fried Plantains.
If you are wanting to bake the plantain then heat the oven to 200C/180C. Slice the ends off the plantains and cut a slit along the length of each. Put the plantain on a baking sheet, cut-side up, and bake for 30-40 mins or until tender. Open the plantains out a little and spoon half the butter into each with some seasoning and the chili flakes. Bake again for 10 mins, squeeze over the lime and serve.
Check out our blog post here and discover more incredible ways to prepare plantains.