As much as I enjoy playing in the kitchen, I like to balance “project recipes” (I’m looking at you, Paleo Chicken Bastila.) and dead-simple dishes that require almost no work with a big flavor payoff. This Tropical Chopped Salad is part of my series of Super Simple recipes that are made with minimal fuss and just a few ingredients.
When we arrived in Costa Rica a few days ago, our first stop, fresh off the plane, was the grocery store in town because it’s a 30-minute ride over rutted, unpaved roads to get to Casa Muy Grande, our house by the sea. We just can’t make an easy grocery run every day, so we tried to stock up. But we had no plan. We kinda grabbed stuff willy-nilly: avocados, cucumbers, oranges, onions, chicken breasts, ground beef, eggs, bacon, limes, beer and liquor (living with non-paleos this week), and plantains. (And I bought a little packet of cumin, just in case.) With no firm menu, we kinda thought with these base ingredients, we’d figure some stuff out.
This morning, I decided plantains would make an excellent side for scrambled eggs, but I was too lazy to look up a recipe. I just kinda winged it, and it worked out great. So here’s my non-recipe for platanos maduros, Casa Muye Grande-style.
Casa Muy Grande Plaintains
Serves 2-4 | Prep 2 min. | Cook 10 min.
2 ripe (yellow and brown) plantains
1 tablespoon coconut oil or ghee plenty of salt
dash ground cumin
juice of 1 lime
1. Peel the plantains. The easiest way is to cut off both ends, then make shallow slits along the ridges in the skin that run the length of the plantain. Use your fingers to pry off the strips of skin. (Here’s a very detailed video. Good golly! It’s not brain surgery.) Slice the plantains into 1/4-inch thick coins.
2. Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, about 3 minutes. Add coconut oil and allow it to melt. Add the plantain slices in a single layer and allow to brown on the bottom, 2-3 minutes. Flip and brown the other side. Keep a close eye on them; the sugars in the plantains can turn from brown to black in a blink.
3. When you’re happy with the color, sprinkle generously with salt and a bit of cumin. Remove to a serving plate and squeeze fresh lime juice over the top. Eat immediately. Fork optional.
Bonus Condiment: We’ve been enjoying Salsa Lizano on just about everything: bunless burgers, avocado and cabbage salad, plantains, ceviche. We’ve been calling it “Lizard Sauce,” and it include onions, carrots, cauliflower, cucumbers, and spices — but I suspected it also includes non-paleo ingredients so Dave and I typed the ingredients list into translate.google.com. Hmmm…
water, sugar, iodized salt, vegetable concentrate, molasses, spices (with mustard and celery), modified corn starch (thickener), acetic acid (acidulant), Potassium Chloride, chile pepper, hydrolyzed vegetable protein, sodium benzoate (0.09%) as preservative. Treated with ionizing energy.
I’m OK with that for now. It’s the Costa Rican version of ketchup, and it kicks ass. When in Rome, ya know…
(Update 2014: There’s a 100% paleo, Whole30 approved version of “Lizard Sauce” in Well Fed 2!)
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