Honestly I have to admit that, as half of the rest of the planet, I became familiar with the beloved peasant French dish called ratatouille after the release of the popular Disney movie with the same name. For me this is a very special movie, not only because it let us enjoy the journey of this charming and resolute mouse that decided eating garbage was not for him, but also because this was the first movie my daughter Mariana went to see at the theater.
She was a little more than 4 years, but because of her auditory hypersensitivity and tendency to fall asleep easily, movie theaters were not an alternative for us. But, a movie that my daughter made it through the end, about food and in Paris? I fell in love at the very moment. So it was a matter of time that I would want to create my own version of this dish. And the time arrived now.
As for Anton Ego, dishes with sweet plantains bring to many Caribbean people memories of yesteryears when, because of it’s sweetness, it was ideal to trick kids to eat other foods. Our moms took advantage of that in our homes. It occurred to me to put together these two. The starch of the plantain brings boldness to the traditional light dish, and the sweet flavor creates a perfect balance with the acidity of the tomatoes and the more sharp flavors of the zucchini and the herbs de provençe. Mine is a simpler version, but you can add eggplants and red bell peppers if you have them in hand, just slice them the same size as the others.
Now, I have to tell you, sweet plantains are not supposed to be pretty. They're after all a ripe fruit, so the ideal is to find some that have big black spots, or even black completely, but somewhat firm to the touch. The darker the sweeter! I don't understand the itchiness of some US supermarkets to throw plantains as soon as they start to become yellowish or have a black spot. You could either tell your store manager to let them hang around more, buy a few, create something delicious and bring some to him so he could understand all the goodness and deliciousness of ripe plantains, or you just could also buy them green and let them ripe at your home in a dry environment! Just don't stack them because the humidity each one expires will cause mold on the one next to it and to itself. When bought green, it could take 3 or 4 weeks to get them ripe, depending of course on your climate.
This could be a great side dish for the simple and earthy flavors of a traditional style rotisserie chicken, or on its own as a light lunch…with bread and butter!
Total & active time – 25 minutes
Equipment – Large non-stick sauté pan (I strongly recommend using a non-stick sauté pan because these are very delicate vegetables.)
Sweet plantains, diced – 2 cup, about 2 medium sized plantains
Zucchini, diced – 1 cup, about 1 small zucchini
Plum tomatoes, diced – 1 cup, about 2 tomatoes
Olive oil – 2 TBSP
Unsalted butter – 2 TBSP
Fine sea salt – ¼ Tsp + ½ Tsp
Fresh ground black pepper - 1/4 Tsp
Marjoram, dried – 1 Tsp
Rosemary, dried – 1 Tsp
Thyme, dried – 1 Tsp
Oregano, dried – 1 Tsp
Tarragon, fresh – 1 TBSP
Soak the sweet plantains in warm water for 5 to 10 minutes. Rinse and pat the excess water using a paper towel.
In a large sauté pan melt the butter with the olive oil in medium heat, but don’t let the butter burn. Immediately add the sweet plantains and sprinkle with the ¼ of the salt. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, you can check for a golden yellow color and some caramelization on the borders on the bottom side. Flip the plantains and cook for 3 to 4 minutes more, looking for the same on the other side. Take the plantains out of the pan and add the zucchini, tomatoes, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, oregano, the pepper and the remaining ½ Tsp salt and cook for 5 to 7 more minutes, until the zucchinis are tender and a little bit transparent. Put the plantains back in the pan and combine a couple of times, just until some of the tomatoes begin to breakdown covering the other ingredients. Take off the heat and toss the fresh tarragon to serve.