Black Bean & Cheese Stuffed Plantains with Cilantro Sauce

Monday, August 28, 2017

This summer, my blog fell by the wayside due to so much other work going on. Great thing for my career, but I missed posting recipes here!  With all the back to school activities going on these days, I decided I'd muster up the same energy for my blog. I've challenged myself to a "Back to Blogging Week" which officially kicked off with yesterday's post for Stewed Chicken and Manioc. What's in it for you?  A new recipe every day this week. Really.

Today's post is a stupid easy vegetarian dish. I didn't even bother taking step by step pictures, it's that easy. One of the street food dishes that is forever etched in my memory is the cheese stuffed plantains I ate at a book fair in Miami. Roasted ripe plantains were split down the center and filled with melted quesadilla cheese. Two of my favorite things are plantains and cheese - put them together and I'm in actual heaven. Instead of being super sweet like the fried plantains I love so much, roasting ripe plantains creates a texture that's more like a potato. I've recreated that dish a few times at home over the years but truthfully it always fell a little short of my memory. The idea came to me again last week though, a moment of inspiration I can only credit to being broke but blessed with decent leftovers. I had plenty of black beans made from scratch, a little container of chipotle butter from Wegmans, a block of pepper jack cheese, and a ton of cilantro and parsley that was on its last leg. Plantains had been on sale that week, 4 for $1, and by the grace of God the ones I found were already ripe enough to use. All the signs were pointing towards figuring dinner out without spending any more money on meat, so that's what I did.

The results exceeded my expectations! It's hard to tell because of all the cheese, but these plantain boats were really packed full of beans. The plantains were rubbed down with chipotle butter for extra flavor, which was a nice touch. It would have been delicious as is. However, I love finishing rich dishes off with a brighter note, so I drizzled the stuffed plantains with a quick herb sauce (similar to chimichurri.) Each plantain was enough to make an adult dinner serving. All in all, this meal probably cost $10 to make and that's mostly coming from the cost of the cheese and butter. You don't need to be exact with measurements and the ingredients can be tweaked based on what you have around. Canned black beans would be fine although I suggest buying seasoned beans or doctoring them yourself. If you're not particularly tied to keeping this vegetarian, cooked ground meat would work too. Think Mexican style chorizo or ground beef spiced with cumin and chile powder. As long as you have plantains and cheese, I'm sure you can use the notes below and get inspired to make it your own!

Black Bean & Cheese Stuffed Plantains with Cilantro Sauce

4 ripe plantains (should be slightly soft to the touch, yellow skins with lots of black spots)
Olive oil, as needed
Kosher salt, as needed
Cracked black pepper, as needed
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp chile powder 
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, drained (or a 15 oz can seasoned black beans, drained)
8 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves
1/2 cup loosely packed Italian parsley leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1 jalapeno, sliced
1 small shallot, chopped (or 1/4 cup chopped onion)
Juice of 1 lime

Active Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
Special Equipment: basting or pastry brush, zester, food processor (optional)

Preheat your oven to 400°F. Peel plantains but leave whole. Grease a casserole dish with olive oil, then arrange the plantains inside the dish, in a single layer. Cut a slit down the center of each plantain. Drizzle plantains with olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Transfer the dish to the oven and roast for 20 to 30 minutes, until plantains are cooked through and soft.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a small dish. Stir in the chile powder and a pinch of salt. Pull the casserole dish out of the oven. Carefully use a spoon to pry the slits open that were cut earlier, being careful not to break the plantain. Brush the roasted plantains with butter, also drizzling some of the butter inside the openings.

Divide the drained black beans among the plantains, pushing the beans into the open pockets. Top each plantain with shredded cheese. Return the plantains to the oven and bake about 10 minutes or until beans are warmed through and cheese is bubbly. Baste the plantains with any melted chile butter that's collected in the dish.

Meanwhile, combine the cilantro, parsley, oregano, jalapeno, shallot and lime juice in the food processor and pulse until finely minced, just shy of being pureed. (If you don't have a food processor, finely mince all the ingredients with your knife, then combine in a bowl with the lime juice.) Whisk in enough olive oil to make a thick sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

Drizzle the herb sauce over the hot stuffed plantains. Serve immediately.

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  1. I LOVE this recipe. My husband is Belizean so this is a new dinner staple. So quick and easy to make. Thanks so much!

  2. I didn’t have plantains so I used sweet potato it was delish

  3. This tasted as good as it looked! I love plantains and was glad my store had ripened ones. The delicious Cilantro sauce would be great on anything - potatoes, eggs, grilled meat, etc. Thanks for a great meat-free and easy dinner!