Plantains — also called cooking bananas — are a food staple in the Dominican Republic.
Although they’re related to the sweet tropical bananas most Americans are familiar with, plantains usually are cooked before they’re eaten.
And you’ll find them prepared in a variety of ways at Villa Verde.
Plantains are a starchy fruit with a relatively neutral flavor and soft texture when cooked. Unripe plantains are firm and starchy and resemble a potato in flavor. When they ripen, plantains become sweeter and when they’re cooked, they caramelize and turn a golden-brown color.
Tostones are a plantain side dish, appetizer or snack in the Dominican Republic.
After removing the skin, unripe plantains are sliced thin and deep fried in hot oil to produce chips. The chips then are removed and individually smashed down with the bottom of a bottle to about half their original height. Then they’re fried again and seasoned with a bit of salt.
At Villa Verde, the price is $4.49.
Maduros are very ripe plantains that are peeled and sliced at an angle about 3/4-inch thick. The pieces then are fried in oil until they’re sweetly caramelized. They’re served hot as a side dish.
Maduros are available for $3.49 at Villa Verde.
Mofongo is a Caribbean dish made with fried and mashed green plantains seasoned with salt, garlic and olive oil. Pork cracklings (Chicarron) are added to the mixture and it’s formed into a tight ball. It’s traditionally served with fried meat or seafood.
Villa Verde offers Mofongo as a side dish, for $4.99. It’s also offered as an entree with a choice of pork, chicken, vegetables or seafood.
A traditional breakfast dish in the Dominican Republic, Mangu consists of peeled green, boiled plantains mashed with enough of the hot water they were boiled in so the consistency is a little stiffer than mashed potatoes.
Mangu usually is topped with sauteed onions and accompanied by fried eggs, fried cheese, fried salami or avocado.
Mangu is only offered during Saturday brunch at Villa Verde.