One of my new favorite discoveries while developing recipes for my next cookbook is the versatility of green bananas.
I’m definitely comfortable cooking with plantains, both as a hearty side (see: Mofongo and Mangú) or as a complement to dishes like Jerk Chicken, Picadillo Cubano, and Ital Stew. As I started to dig a bit more deeply into Caribbean cuisines, I grew to appreciate the simplicity of just grabbing a few unripe bananas and giving them a quick boil – their texture is not unlike potatoes, but with a rib-sticking quality that is maybe a tiny bit more satisfying than your typical boiled spuds. They even do well in a cold salad, like this week’s recipe.
Guineitos en Escabeche (Pickled Green Bananas) is an excellent example of how you can take seemingly discordant ingredients – bananas, onion, garlic, olives, and vinegar – and come up with something that blends together pleasantly (and unexpectedly). Escabeche is a process of marinating food in a vinegar solution, most commonly used to preserve delicate fish in the Mediterranean and Latin America. For this dish, which is most associated with Puerto Rico, bananas take the center stage; try it as a side for your next summer cookout!
Guineitos en Escabeche - Pickled Green Bananas (Gluten-free, Paleo, Primal, Whole30)
4 green bananas, peeled and cut into 2” chunks
juice of 1 lime (2 tsp), divided
1 cup olive oil
⅓ cup white wine vinegar
1 small red onion, sliced (about 1 cup sliced)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt, more to taste
6 black peppercorns
½ cup pitted green Spanish olives
3 cloves garlic
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat, then add the bananas and 1 tsp of the lime juice; reduce heat to medium and simmer until just tender but still slightly resistant when pierced with a fork, about 10 minutes. Drain the bananas and set aside.
2. As the bananas simmer, prepare the brine. In a skillet, warm the oil over medium heat, then add the vinegar, onion, bay leaves, salt, and peppercorns. Simmer until the onions are starting to soften, about 6 minutes, then stir in the garlic; simmer until the garlic is tender, 2 more minutes, then remove from heat.
3. In a large, heat-resistant mixing bowl, combine the bananas, brine, olives, and remaining 1 tsp of lime juice. Season with salt to taste, then refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to marry.
Note: In the year leading up to my new cookbook’s release, I will be regularly releasing these recipes to 1) maintain a continuing conversation with my readership and 2) give visitors to this site an opportunity to test and provide feedback before editing. For more information on this new approach, read my post here.