We lived a hop, skip and a jump from the Texas-Mexico border on and off for several years, absorbing the super-heated sun’s rays, the colorful surroundings, the local culture and cuisine — the extraordinary tortillas, in particular. Whether at a sit-down restaurant or a run-down truck in the long-closed tire shop parking lot, they were as close to perfection as you could find without traveling further south. Tender and pliable, yet sturdy enough to withstand soupier fillings. Not too thick, not too thin. Always warm and fresher than fresh, pressed only minutes before landing in front of us.
As soon as possible I learned the time-tested methods for both corn and flour, purchased the requisite ingredients and tools, and haven’t looked back since. The origin story of a tortilla snob, perhaps, but nothing compares to handmade.
A recent addition to our routine line-up: plantain tortillas. Yes, they’re unconventional, but they’re also worthy of your experimentation. And if you’re new to plantains, this recipe is a good starter. Made from a handful of basic ingredients, these tortillas are surprisingly simple with flavor and good looks that speak for themselves.
Plantain tortillas are thin and soft with a mild, very faintly sweet flavor, providing a versatile canvas. Think fillings of grilled and roasted meats and seafood, smoky beans, lentils or tofu; mixed greens or dal; wrapped around soft-scrambled eggs or nestled under a sunny-side-up; rolled up as an accompaniment to soups, stews or chillies; or pressed with a layer of melty cheese and veg inside.
Beyond substitution for more “typical” tortilla applications, these make marvelous crepes for breakfast or dessert, and the subtle “banana-y” flavor makes it a lovely pair with seeds or nut butters for a post-workout snack or lunchbox treat. And because they keep well, they can be made in larger quantities, refrigerated or frozen, then re-warmed for quick meals.
Plantain tortillas are a great replacement for anyone avoiding wheat, gluten or corn for any reason. They’re packed with nutrients, including heart-healthy potassium and antioxidant vitamins A and C from plantains, as well as monounsaturated fats from the olive oil that can help improve cholesterol levels, reduce risk of heart disease and stroke, and control blood sugars. [Hop back for more nutrition information on olive oil + plantains.]
While they wouldn’t be seen as traditional in the parts our love of homemade tortillas stemmed from, and we have no plans to give up on flour and corn, we adore these unique alternatives and think you will, too!
Tell me… What’s your favorite way to use a tortilla?
- 1 pound peeled, chunked green or yellow plantains (*see HGN Notes)
- 1/3 cup olive, grapeseed or avocado oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Preheat oven to 400° F with a rack in the middle of the oven. Line two large baking trays with parchment paper or Silpat mats.
- Add ingredients to a high-powered blender with 1/3 cup of water, and run on a low setting for 1 minute. Gradually increase speed, stopping to scrape down sides, until puree is thick and very smooth, similar to super smooth hummus. If yours is too stiff, add a bit more water, by the tablespoon, to move things along.
- With a spoon, smooth batter into 16 equal rounds onto the lined trays, about 1/8"-thick and 4" across. Bake 10 minutes, then switch positions of the trays on the racks, and flip each tray front to back. Bake another 10-15 minutes, until just golden at the edges.
- Cool 5 minutes on the tray before serving. If not using immediately, cool completely before storing in an airtight container or bag in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days or the freezer for several months. Reheat gently in the microwave, on the stovetop or in a warm oven before serving.
Recipe adapted from Fresh Tart.
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