Recipe: Plantain & Cheese Turnovers (Tortas de Plátano)

Makes 8-10

Imagine. It’s the height of summer. You spend all day roughhousing with the ocean. When every muscle in your body is heavy, you lay down in the sand for an impromptu picnic with a package of street food – tortas. In less than a minute you make several cheesy, crispy, fried plantain tortas disappear into your happy belly.  After the last bite, you lick the salt from your fingers and drink a tall glass of water. You stretch out for a nap, still warm from the glow of a little too much sun.

Did I just find one of the secrets to a happy Honduran childhood by the seashore?

I sure hope so.

What is it about summer and fried food? While I don’t normally include loads of oil in my daily line-up, there’s nothing like a big bite of crispy fried goodness to cap off a great day in the sun.  Play around with this recipe – make it your own. Our tortas simply contain cheese, although beans are traditional as well.

Tela, Honduras by Samoano

Ingredients:

4 large, ripe plantains
1/8-1/4 cup flour, as needed
8 Tbsp butter, softened
6 oz queso quesadilla, shredded
salt
pepper

Method:

Put on your biggest smile. Now, call your dearest friend. Tell her you need her help. Tell her to wear elastic pants. Tell her she’ll need to eat several tortas. Tell her you can’t do this alone.

Once she’s agreed, you can get started.

Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the plantains (in their skins) and cook 10-12 minutes.

Meanwhile, call your friend back and tell her to bring something fruity and fun to drink. Then shred some cheese. Queso Quesadilla is soft, creamy, and melts wonderfully. If you can’t find it in your supermarket, any mild melting cheese will do.

Once they are cool enough to handle, take the plantains out of their skins. I find it helps to slit them with a small knife.

Pulse the plantains in a food processor with cubed butter, flour, salt, and pepper. Start with a 1/8 cup. Keep adding flour until a soft dough forms. It should not be sticky or greasy.

As you pulse, really strange things will happen. Hello plantain spiral. Nice to meet you. You have my attention.

Once you have a soft, workable dough, pinch off a golf-sized ball portion and flatten into a thin disc.

Add a little shredded cheese to the center…

… and fold over. Seal by pressing the seams together.

Coat in flour and shake off the excess. Keep doing this until your friend shows up. Have her pour you a glass of that fruity drink. Then, fry in batches over medium-high heat, in a large skillet coated with vegetable oil. Sprinkle with salt when done.

They’re particularly cute nestled in a soft blankie to keep warm while you’re cooking them all. And by blankie, I mean napkin.

Eat while laying on a hammock, laughing, and staring at the stars.

They are best when eaten right away, while still screaming hot, one after the other, just like an impatient, hungry child eats.

Wait, tell me impatient, hungry children can have white hair.

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Comments

  1. You are right about oily foor and summer at the seaside, counterintuitive as it may sound. Your description reminded me of my summers in Calabria, Sourthern Italy. Same feeling – only the food is usually something containing fried aubergines (parmigiana di melanzane, or even the heaviest of the lot: a sandwich of two fried aubergines, filled with cheese and ham, breaded and fried again) or arancini (balls of rice and ragu, breaded and fried) or little calzoni (fried, ca va sans dire). I want some summer right now.

  2. Jessica Bennett says:

    Oh, those look soooooo good! I think I’d do some with just cheese and some with beans and cheese. But first, I guess I really need to get a food processor. I’ve been thinking about getting one for years but for some reason have a mental block/stubborn thing going on about getting one.

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I’m the same way – it took me until last year to finally buy a food processor. I don’t use a whole lot – but it’s nice to have when I need it. For this dough, the processor breaks down the plantain very quickly into a dough…. something that would take a long, long time by hand.

  3. These sound incredible! I’ll have to find a way to modify the recipe for my food processor-less existence (tear), but I must try them!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Hmm, lots of muscle building, I think. ;) Other than by hand, maybe you can get it done with a paddle in a standing mixer??? Not sure.. let me know if you find a way!

  4. These look amazing, absolutely delicious. I’ve heard of using yucca or corn masa for tortas, but I cannot even imagine how sweet and wonderful these are with ripe plantains. I most certainly will be making these tonight!

  5. I’d have this any time of the year – that photo is too adorable!

  6. VERY, VERY, VERY cool idea Global Table Adventure!!!!!!!!!!

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Thank you so much OneCowgirl. I saw that your photo was featured on Pioneer Woman – with good reason. It’s beautiful. Keep in touch. :D

  7. elisa waller says:

    beautiful!!! you have the best fingers….and this is totally awesome…whats the difference between using bananas and plantains…huh?

    • Sasha Martin says:

      I have read that you can make this recipe with regular bananas, although the flavor is quite a bit different. Plantains aren’t quite as sweet and have a tart, almost lemony note to them. If you get a chance, give them a try.

  8. I just made a double batch for my family and they were just as amazing as they looked and sounded here. Thank you for your wonderful blog and recipes, they are always fantastic.

  9. These sound incredible! I will put these on my to do list! Now to find a friend with elastic pants and a food processor!

  10. Hi Sasha:

    I echo the comments of the others – they look and sound delicious!

    We just enjoyed some Senegalese plantains a couple of weeks ago at a local African restaurant (they were sweet and then topped with a spicy, onion-based condiment) and I was trying to imagine the warm plantain flavor with melted Quesa cheese and – yum – was all my brain could muster.

    Nice dish and post!

    Laura

    • Sasha Martin says:

      Laura, The Senegalese plantains sound amazing. Then again, I love anything that involves onions. This recipe is so indulgent, it could benefit from a salsa or other condiment for dipping. Thanks for stopping by :) Sasha

  11. Sandra Farmer says:

    Running back to the store for more plantains! My homeschooled kids wanted to study Cuba this week, so we are using the plantains for frying tonight — I try to cook a related dish or meal on Friday. I love your postings, both to share and inspire on my FB nutrition page (funny, huh?) and with my adventurous kids… if I can keep them within the alphabet you’d already tackled! Oh, and thanks to you we now do homemade corn tortillas and my 5 yr old daughter is the pressing princess.

    Great work!
    Sandy =)

  12. This looks like a great alternative to tostones or mofongo which don’t look appealing. Was in a quandry what to do with 3 green plantains bought on sale– they were 6 for $1.00. I have 2 processors, and based on the beautiful photos and Ashley’s comments, this will be what’s for dinner. Also I don’t get quesadilla cheese but have cheddar on hand. May add some adobo, similar seasoning or chopped fresh herbs to the dough or cheese. Many thanks, Sasha!

  13. I’m from Honduras and have lived on an island all of my life and have NEVER heard of these! we eat boiled ripe plantains as a side all the time but this is honestly new to me!!!! Sounds to be very yummy and will try making these very soon!!!!

  14. I just made these and they absorb a bit of oil but were rather delicious. I made two different kinds – some with refried bean filling and others with queso fresco de hoja. With the fresh cheese, those were especially delicious and then I made a spicy sauce to go with it made with honduran crema, cilantro and chipotle.

    To make them a little healthier, I coated them with plantain flour instead of all purpose flour

    Such a great snack!!!!!

Trackbacks

  1. […] America to Africa and beyond to Asia and Oceania. In fact we’ve had it mashed, fried, in turnovers, with corn, with beans, and even baked in an African upside down […]

  2. […] Plantain and Cheese Turnovers (adapted from Global Table Adventure) […]

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