I did improv cooking and this is what happened
There’s not much backstory to this recipe, other than it’s the perfect example of what you can create when you buy fresh food just because they look absolutely wonderful and its screaming your name from the other side of the aisle.
Some days ago I saw in the market a full raceme of sweet plantains, all of them big, fat and with a very bright yellow color. More than just frying them in slices, I’m always looking for new ways to eat them. Plantains are a very starchy vegetable, full of complex carbs, potassium and minerals, such as its fruit cousin the bananas. Now, I could be quite polarizing when it come to plantains. Green, not a fan of them. Yellow, will do anything for a good bunch. They’re not black but when they reach some abroad markets they are already in their ripeness and sweetness peak, hence the black color. You may cook with them perfectly though. Around here you will find them still yellow, that’s why their local name are amarillos.
Ehhh, retaking the focus of the conversation and back to my day at the market, these plantains were such a perfect element I don't wanted them to end just fried in the typical oval slices to eat them alone or to pile them lasagna style style with some meat in the middle. As you may have done with anything you feel you just have to have, I bought a few of them without any ideas on the pocket. They were at least in my side now. But after two days around and also, wanting to make something cozy and earthy, it occurred to me to use them as a piecrust.
I also happened to have some mushrooms I wanted to use. Ok, wanted is an understatement. I really needed to use them because I had the whole package and they were about to get spoiled. Needless to say I resolved to put the two of them together. What’s not to love about the sweetness and richness of plantains balancing out the earthy and strong flavors of mushrooms? I stewed the mushrooms with strong herbs and spices. I love the hot kick black mustard seeds bring to the table, so if you have been wanting to experiment with them, this is a good recipe to start. I also used oregano brujo, laurel leaves, garlic and Worcestershire sauce to enhance the mushrooms own notes.
The cheese is a nice touch to add some umami to the dish. It also serves as a layer between the mushrooms and the plantain crust. I used what I had on hand, which was Gruyere, but any white hard cheese such as Parmesan, Asiago or even Manchego would be a nice addition.
Needless to say, it’s worth to spur the moment when you have a good encounter at the market.
1. I like to rinse raw sweet plantains before cooking to remove some of the starch. Place them in water in the same saucepan you a re going to cook them and rub the pieces a bit with your fingers. You don’t need a colander to drain, just use the saucepan lid to prevent them from falling down.
2. Oregano brujo is also known as Cuban oregano. You may substitute with 4 to 5 sprigs of Italian oregano, which is more accessible.
3. I sliced the mushrooms not too thin nor too thick; too thin would make them melt into the liquid and too thick would not allow them to absorb the amount of flavor you want to taste in a main ingredient of a dish.
4. Remember that I was sick the first month of the year? Well, this was my first shooting after that and my mind was still a little numb. It didn’t occur to me to use parsley for the shooting, but I’m sure it would have been a nice addition for freshness and a pop of color, so by all means use it in the baking or to serve if you have some on hand.
5. For some reason this dish is so good after the next couple of days of being cooked, it’s perfect for make-ahead cooking. Reheat gently and serve with a nice green salad or steamed vegetables.
Sweet plantains mushrooms tart
Total time - 40 minutesPrep time - 10 minutesActive time - 20 minutes
Equipment - Food processor, pie dish
Sweet plantains, sliced in ¼ inches pieces – 4 large or 5 medium
Olive oil – ½ cup
Butter – 2 TBSP + 2 TBSP
Oregano brujo – 3 to 4 leaves (see notes)
Bay leaves (fresh or dry) -3 to 4
Cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced in three to four pieces each – 24 ounces, 4 cups approximately (see notes)
Finely crushed garlic – 1 Tsp
Black mustard seeds, grounded – 2 Tsp
Worcestershire sauce – 1 ½ TBSP
Soy sauce – 1 TBSP
Red wine vinegar – 1 TBSP
Unbleached all purpose flour – 3 TBSP
Gruyere cheese, grated or finely shredded – ¼ cup + more for the top
Fine sea salt – 1 Tsp + ½ Tsp + extra pinches to adjust taste
Freshly ground black pepper – ¼ Tsp + more to taste
Parsley (optional) to serve (see notes)
Preheat oven to 350°.
Place the sweet plantains slices in a large saucepan and cover them with water to give them a quick rinse. Drain the water (see notes) and fill again with more water covering the slices. Add one teaspoon of the salt and boil for about 15 o 20 minutes, until the sweet plantain slices are soft and seem a bit translucent.
In the meantime, heat in medium heat the olive oil with the 2 tablespoons of butter in a cast iron French oven, braiser or deep sauté pan or skillet. Submerge the oregano and bay leaves and let them infuse the oil for 3 to 4 minutes, until the oil is hot and the edges of the leaves starts to sizzle. Add the mushroom slices and sauté for 30 seconds, just to cover them with the oil. Sprinkle the half-teaspoon of salt and give it a quick toss, then add the garlic and give it another toss for about a minute to let the mushrooms absorb the flavors. Add the ground mustard seeds and toss, then add the Worcestershire, soy and vinegar. Toss everything well and sauté for 10 minutes, moving frequently. Add the ¼ teaspoon of pepper, or more to taste, and the parsley, if using, and combine. Check the taste and add a bit of extra salt if preferred. Toss for 20 extra seconds over the heat, then remove the pan and set aside.
Drain the cooked sweet plantains and place them in the bowl of a food processor already attached to the base. Add the other 2 tablespoons of butter, the flour and the ¼ cup of the Gruyere cheese. Pulse in 10 seconds intervals for a few times, scraping the walls of the bowl if necessary, until it becomes a purée. Transfer to a pie dish and spread the purée evenly through it to create the crust, pressing toward the borders for reaching the top of the dish. Sprinkle some extra cheese to create a thin layer between the sweet plantains and the mushrooms. Fill with all the mushrooms content and top with a bit of more cheese if desired. Place in oven and bake for about 20 minutes. Take out of oven and let it rest for 5 minutes before serving. You may sprinkle with more cheese and fresh parsley.