It should be light, so as not to weigh you down in the heat. It should feature bright, bold flavors, capitalizing on the incredible bounty of produce available this time of year. It should be portable and picnic-friendly. And, most importantly, it should come together quickly, so that you have more time to spend enjoying it with the people you love.
This recipe fulfills all of the above. Ripe plantains get coated with an addictive yet utterly simple spice mixture of ancho chile powder, ground cumin, salt, and pepper (which, by the way, are also the contents of those stupid packets of taco-meat seasoning, so go ahead and stop buying those and make your own for a lot less money instead).
When buying plantains, it's important to look for ones that look like a nearly rotten banana. Pure yellow or green plantains will be too hard to work with. Using very ripe plantains will ensure that they are sweet enough to counterbalance the smoky spices and onion. That said, do keep an eye on them while they cook. It's fine for them to be soft, but you don't want them to turn to mush in the pan.
These are great on their own, but if you want to round them out into a fuller meal, add black beans and perhaps a crunchy slaw.
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder $1.50 for 1 oz.
1 teaspoon ground cumin $1.50 for 1 oz.
1/2 teaspoon salt pantry
1/2 teaspoon pepper pantry
2 ripe plantains, peeled and sliced on the bias, into 1/2-inch thick pieces $1.50
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil pantry
8 6-inch corn tortillas $2 for 12
1/4 red onion, chopped finely $0.50 for a whole onion
1 avocado, diced $1.50
1 handful fresh cilantro leaves $1 for a bunch
?sliced jalape¿o optional
Total estimated cost of ingredients: $9
In a small bowl, combine the spices, salt, and pepper. Mix well.
Arrange the sliced plantains on a plate or cutting board and sprinkle half of the spice mixture over them, making sure each one gets lightly coated on one side.
Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan or griddle over medium-high heat.
Cook the plantains (working in batches or using two pans, if necessary) spiced side down for 2-3 minutes, until a brown crust develops. While the plantains cook, sprinkle the remaining half of the spice mixture on the tops of the plantains.
Flip plantains and cook on the other side for 2-3 minutes, until a brown crust develops.
Once the plantains have cooked, turn the heat off and leave the plantains in the pan.
Toast the tortillas by toasting them either directly over a gas burner or in a dry frying pan for 30 seconds to a minute. You want the edges to crisp up slightly and the tortillas to be flexible.
To assemble the tacos, divide the cooked plantains between the tortillas and top with onion, avocado, cilantro, and jalape¿o, if using.
Recipe serves 3-4. ?
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