Plantains, cashews, ginger and lime make this salad all kinds of tropical. Hot, hot, hot! We get fewer than average summer days in Amsterdam, but this salad makes even our scarce summer feel like Mombasa, if only in your mouth.
The lovely and nutrient-rich plantain is eaten in the Caribbean and many parts of Africa. It’s a great alternative to the usual carbohydrates like rice. Plantains, with their low glycemic index are a great fuel or refuel for endurance workouts. They are also full of potassium, which is important for processing electrolytes and maintaining hydration, making them a great summer food.
I make this salad with large cabbage leaves and stuff them as a wrap, or slice them thin and make a bowl out of it. In Cuba and Jamaica, plantains are typically deep fried. Here, they are roasted in the oven for a few minutes then finished in a pan with ghee or coconut oil for golden brown caramelisation and crispy edges—but with much less fat and oil oxidation than normal.
Prep Time: 20 mins Serves: 2 as a main or 4 as a side
GINGER CASHEW DRESSING 200g raw cashews or cashew butter (sunflower seeds if you have a nut allergy) 60ml of raw apple cider, coconut or other mild vinegar 2 Tbsp (30ml) tamari, nama shoyu, coconut aminos or soy sauce 1 Tbsp (15g) crushed red chilis or 1/2 a fresh red chili pepper, seeded and chopped 1 Tbsp (15g) maple syrup, honey or a few drops of stevia 2 Tbsp (30g) chopped fresh ginger 1 small clove chopped garlic 100ml water 1 lime, juiced
*Reserve a little lime juice for finishing the plantains and fresh red chili, if using
SALAD 1 handful watercress, baby salad greens, or sweet lettuce of choice (not arugula/rocket) 1 handful spinach or other dark leafy green; chard or beet greens work well 1 handful celery or 1/2 thinly chopped fennel for crunch 1/4 purple cabbage, chopped razor thin 1 handful mixed sprouts (I used baby asparagus) 1 blackened plantain (not green!), peeled and chopped crosswise 1 Tbsp of coconut oil or ghee
GARNISH 1 handful fresh coriander/cilantro, chopped 1 handful green onions, chopped 2 Tbsp (30g) black sesame seeds Pickled daikon radish or vegan kimchi Roasted cashews
Preheat the oven to 170C and set out a frying pan with a pat of ghee or coconut oil for the plantains. The lazy way is to use cashew or sunflower butter, but to experience the full pow-pow of this lovely dressing, roast the cashews first at 170C for about 10 mins or until golden brown. Watch them closely after 5-7 mins; they can go from roasted to burnt in a flash.
While the cashews are roasting, chop up vegetables and toss them into a big mixing bowl. Remove the cashews from the oven , reserving a few to toss on top of the dish as a garnish for added crunch. Toss all the ingredients except the water into a blender or food processor. Whizz them together and add water a bit at a time until you reach a consistency you like, tasting along the way. Turn up the oven to 200C. Pop your sliced plantains on a baking tray lined with waxed paper and roast for 7-10 mins. Remove plantains from the oven and transfer to the hot frying pan with ghee/oil to finish turning them brown with crispy edges.
Toss the salad with dressing and top with the hot plantains, some chopped coriander (cilantro), green onion, black sesame, cashews and kimchi or pickles if you have them. The last squeeze of lime juice goes over the warm plantains to finish. You can use some of the fresh red chili to garnish as well, if you used that in the dressing.