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Plantains and more plantains!
Three cheers for this starchy vegetable that can go savory OR sweet on you, or in the case of today’s recipe, a little spicy, too.
This recipe is incredibly vibrant and full of nutritious good stuff! But that is secondary to the fact that it just tastes very, very delicious.
This plantain and pinto bean situation is more of a thick stew than a soup, and it’s like a melting pot of spices, aromatics, and fresh, tender-cooked vegetables like plantains and bell peppers and kale. The cumin, smoked paprika, and chili powder warm it up, the pinto beans bulk it out a bit, and the plantains are the perfect bite-sized chunks of slightly-sweet creaminess that we need in a stew.
Okay, but that’s not all.
I cannot recommend this stew without also recommending that you serve it topped with a swizzle of a spicy green sauce called aji verde, which is 10/10 delicious and full of creamy cilantro flavor and will also possibly start your mouth on fire. In a good way. It’s VERY GOOD.
Hear me out. I intentionally didn’t add a lot of spice to the stew – you can serve it to your most spice-avoidant family members and they will be good to go! The stew itself is more sweet and smoky. No heat necessary.
But the aji verde is where all the spice lives, so each person can add that sauce to their fiery little heart’s content. None for him, tons for her, medium amount for that person, and just like that everyone is eating beautifully wholesome food, getting their optimal flavor-and-spice kicks, and feeling really good.
This stew makes amazing leftovers. Like, really truly, the kind you look forward to eating for lunch when you wake up in the morning. Keep the sauce handy in a little squeeze bottle because you’re going to be reaching for that more than once.
This plantain and pinto bean stew does really well on its own, in a bowl, like a soup. But it also does really well heaped over a pile of white or brown (or cauli!) rice as just a cozy little home for all those veggies to rest and all the flavorful tomatoey juices to soak in.
You’re ready. You’re on fire. Don’t forget the sauce.
Watch How To Make This Recipe:
I happened across this lovely black bean and plantain stew from Afro Vitality Eats the other day which is what inspired me to start combining some of the ingredients you see here. Plantains are a cousin to the banana and they are grown around the world, accounting for 85% of all banana cultivation worldwide. The more you know! This stew isn’t a traditional recipe that is specific to any particular culture or region, as far as I understand, but if you know differently feel free to let us know in the comments. On the flip side, aji verde is a Peruvian green sauce that is creamy, herby, and hot, hot, hot! I based my less-traditional version off the aji verde recipe from A Cozy Kitchen.
Common Questions About Plantain and Pinto Stew with Aji Verde
How ripe should my plantains be?
For this recipe, we like to have the plantains be medium-ripe – so they’re soft and just starting to turn yellow / brown on the peel. If you use very ripe plantains, they will be very sweet (also delicious but just a different taste)! If you use under-ripe plantains, they will be very starchy and take longer to cook (like a dense raw potato).
Is the stew spicy?
The stew itself has a lot of flavor, but we wouldn’t say it’s spicy. You can certainly add more spice (hot peppers, cayenne, etc.) to the stew itself if you like! I personally like to keep the spice contained in the sauce – that way the adults can eat the stew + sauce together, and our daughter can eat a milder version of the plain stew.
How do I store leftover aji verde?
We’d recommend storing it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Our new favorite warm and nutritious stew filled with pinto beans, plantains, tomatoes, kale, and lots of cozy spices. Top it with a swizzle of a spicy green sauce called aji verde and you’re in flavor town.
For the Stew:
1 small white onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 tablespoonolive oil
2 teaspoonsground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoonsmoked paprika(more to taste)
two 14-ounce cans fire-roasted diced or crushed tomatoes
1 teaspoonkosher salt(more to taste)
2 medium-ripe plantains, peeled and sliced into small half-moon shapes
one 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2cup fresh cilantro, chopped
For the Aji Verde:
2 tablespoonsolive oil
3ounces of queso fresco(optional)
1 jalapeño pepper, ribs and seeds removed, roughly chopped (add more for more heat!)
1 bunch cilantro
2 garlic cloves
juice of 1lime
pinch of salt(to taste)
Shortcut (Optional): Place the onion, garlic, and bell pepper in a food processor and pulse them through for quick and easy chopping!
Sauté the Veggies: Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and peppers. Sauté for 5 minutes until soft.
Build the Stew: Add the cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, tomatoes, and vegetable broth. Bring to a low simmer.
Cook the Plantains: Add in the plantains. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Add in the pinto beans and kale. Heat until the kale is softened. Stir in the cilantro.
Aji Verde Sauce: Blend up all aji verde sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. This sauce is spicy!
Serve It Up: Serve in bowls with rice (optional) and a swirl of aji verde! Also delicious on its own or with a fried egg on top! Yummm.