Now, you may wonder why I have to explain in the headline what tostones are. Well, I had the joy to introduce tostones to a lot of people who had no idea what they were and I know for some this is really new. 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, 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 with them. 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 in size. They are technically a fruit, but they are prepared like a vegetable in many cuisines around the world. They are a major food staple in Africa, Latin America and some parts of Asia, in general in tropical areas, where they grow natively. Plantains are in fact the 10th most important food staple in the world.
They can be used raw or green, but they have different uses depending on their doneness. For example, you can’t make tostones or even plantain chips with the very ripe plantains, you will have to use the green (unripe) ones. Plantains (especially the green ones) are starchier and contain less sugar than a banana. Unlike a banana, a plantain has to be cooked before eating. Some even say you should never eat it raw, but I’m not sure how bad would that be. 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).
Where to find green plantains?
Now, if you are following the Plant Paradox program, you will only be interested in finding green plantains, because in the ripe ones the resistant starch becomes sugar. 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 all the time. In Denmark, I found them in an ethnic food market and that’s pretty much the type of place you will find them across Europe.
Peeling the plantain: the real challenge
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 normal 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.
Other ways to prepare a green plantain
Now that you have the plantain ready to prepare, and before I get to how to make tostones, I am actually quite proud to introduce you to the most creative way I used a green plantain. This recipe is almost three years old, and at the moment I created it, a 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 an amazing 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 do 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 in the usual chip shape, round and thin. Better to use a mandolin so you can achieve consistent thickness. Otherwise, they’ll take different times to cook.
How to make tostones
Back to our tostones. They are one of my favorite savory ways to eat plantains. They are so tasty and I love the texture. Very satisfying when you feel like you need some salty carbs. They are a great snack as they are, 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 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.
- Take out and 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. Just in case you’ve never heard or made guacamole before, this is what 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.