Now, you may wonder why I have to explain in the headline what tostones are. I had the joy to introduce tostones to many people who had no idea what they were, and I know this is new for some. The first time I bought green plantains from Carrefour in the small town in Romania I am now, the cashier was in awe and asked me what that was. My parents were the same. So I thought, let me do my job and make a little guide to help more people buy those plantains before they ripen up in the shop and make something delicious. And that’s how “How To Make Tostones” was born.
What is a plantain?
But firstly, what are plantains? As you would expect, they are a member of the banana family but a little bigger. They are technically fruits, but they are prepared like a vegetable in many cuisines worldwide. They are a major food staple in Africa, Latin America, and some parts of Asia, particularly in tropical areas, where they grow natively. Plantains are the 10th most important food staple in the world.
Are green plantains a good addition to your diet?
They can be used ripe (also called sweet plantains) or unripe (also called green plantains), but they have different uses depending on their ripeness. For example, you can’t make tostones or plantain chips with ripe plantains. You will have to use the green ones.
Plantains (especially the green ones) are starchier and contain less sugar than bananas. Unlike a banana, plantain has to be cooked before eating.
Nutritionally, cooked plantains contain vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin B6, magnesium, and iron. They are mainly a carbohydrate but with lots of fiber and resistant starch benefits (good for feeding your good gut bacteria).
Is green plantain keto?
Plantains are carbs and fiber, so technically, no. But unless you follow a zero-carb keto diet, which is not healthy in the long term anyway (but that’s another story) you can make plantains part of a keto diet, especially during carb cycling days.
I can reach nutritional ketosis and even therapeutical ketosis, even when eating whole food carbs, so I know it’s possible, especially when you also practice intermittent fasting.
Where to find green plantains?
Now, if you are following the Plant Paradox program, you will only be interested in finding green plantains because the resistant starch becomes sugar in the ripe ones. If you don’t live in an area where plantains are native, it might be a challenge to find them.
However, since I found them in my little town in Romania (in Carrefour) I think it is possible to find them almost anywhere. Even in Dallas, Texas I had trouble finding them in their unripe (green) stage. I found them in an ethnic food market in Denmark, and that’s pretty much the type of place you will find them across Europe.
How to peel green plantains
To me, that’s the only challenge now when it comes to preparing green plantains. They are hard, and they cannot, I repeat, cannot be peeled like a banana. And if you have fancy nails, you might ruin them. However, I learned a few tricks that make the peels easier to remove. These are the steps:
- Wash the green plantain with warm/hot water and let the water run on it for a couple of minutes.
- Pat dry and cut both ends of the plantain.
- With a good pairing knife, slit along the length of the plantain in three or four places.
- Slide the knife under the edge of the peel and start loosening it bit by bit, peeling to the side, not lengthwise like a regular banana.
- Be careful not to cut deeper than the skin, especially if you make tostones or chips.
If you need a visual guide, I made a video guide. You can find it on my Instagram page: VIDEO GUIDE.
How to cook green plantains?
Now that you have the plantain ready to prepare, and before I get to how to make tostones, I am proud to introduce you to the most creative way I used green plantain. This recipe is almost three years old, and at the moment I created it, plantain had never been used to make granola, at least according to Mr. Google. So I can say this is a 100% Creative in My Kitchen original recipe.
Dr. Steven Gundry has a fantastic green plantain pancake recipe in the original The Plant Paradox book. I’ve been making it for years now, and it’s still one of the best pancakes I’ve ever had, lectin-free or not.
I make plantain chips quite often, but I never got to post a recipe on this website. However, in my book – The Living Well Without Lectins Cookbook – I have a recipe called: Green Plantains and Parsnip Fries with Guacamole, on page 67, under Small Bites and Appetizers. The slices are cut lengthwise, but you can also cut them round and thin in the usual chip shape. Better to use a mandolin so you can achieve consistent thickness. Otherwise, they’ll take different times to cook.
How to make tostones
So, what are tostones? They are double-fried, unripe, green plantain slices. Or fried, smashed plantain slices. They are one of my favorite savory ways to eat plantains. They are so tasty, and I love the texture, and very satisfying when you feel like you need some salty carbs.
Do you wonder what to eat with tostones? They are a great snack, sprinkled with salt and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. But they also accompany eggs well, and they are the perfect vehicle for guacamole. You can have them with soups or your favorite dips and sauces. And sometimes, when I crave garlic (I do!!!), I love to dip them in a garlic sauce.
So, these are the steps to making the tostones. The downside of tostones is that they are good fresh, and warm, and you can’t really have them as leftovers, so make as much as you can eat. Usually, one plantain is enough for two servings, and I do not recommend eating more in one go.
- Slice the plantain at an angle, if possible, about one-inch slices.
- In a big frying pan, add extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, as much as to generously cover the pan, but not too much. They will be shallow frying, and we don’t want to waste too much oil. The heat used is low to medium.
- Add the slices to the pan and fry the plantains on one side for about 4 minutes.
- Flip them and fry again for another 4 minutes on the second side.
- Take them out on a cutting board and smash each chunk with the bottom of a glass or jar, applying pressure but gently so they don’t break. Gently removed from the bottom of the glass if they get stuck.
- Put them back in the pan and fry again, on low heat, for about 2, 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown.
- Take them out on a paper towel.
- To serve, sprinkle with salt, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and enjoy as a snack, with eggs, or with your favorite dip.
Guacamole with tostones
Try having them with guacamole. Suppose you’ve never heard of or made guacamole before. In that case, you need one ripe avocado, lime juice, salt and pepper, 1-2 tablespoons of finely chopped red onion, chopped fresh cilantro, 1 tablespoon high polyphenol extra virgin olive oil. Smash the avocado first, add the rest of the ingredients, and taste. Optional: add some plant paradox approved hot sauce, such as red Tabasco.