If someone were to tell me they were having me over for a gluten-free, nut-free, meat-free, soy-free meal, I’d politely decline. Which is exactly why I did not tell my dinner guests this when I invited them over. There are a lot of components to this dish, but they come together quite nicely. This is the entree that preceded the Flourless Chocolate Cake for my gluten free dinner party. All the steps in the recipe make it seem like it would take a lot of time to put this dish together, but if you work things in parallel, you can go from start to on the table in less than an hour.
The coconut flavor is remarkably underwhelming in the rice: the rice has an essence of coconut, as opposed to tasting like a sweet, coconut-y dish. For the black beans, I simmered one can of black beans with a little red onion, garlic cloves, salt, and red pepper. I sprinkled the plantain with a little (maybe 1/2 tsp) of salt before frying. Finally, I pureed the mango salsa to make a sauce, and served that in a dish, rather than garnishing with mango. (The plan had to be to garnish with mango, but fresh mango is just so tasty…the mango mysteriously disappeared before my guests arrived.)
For the rice
2 1/4 cups basmati rice (Or your generic, long-grain rice)
1 thirteen-ounce can coconut milk
For the sauce
1 ripe mango, cubed
1 to 2 jalapeno or serrano pepper (I used 1/2 of a habanero pepper, cuz I like it hot), seeded and roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/3 cup finely diced red onion
1 handful cilantro
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
For the dish
2 tablespoons coconut oil or vegetable oil
2 ripe plantains, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick coins
Kosher salt (about 1/2 tsp)
2 cups cooked black beans, heated, seasoned with salt (or if you like, with garlic, onions, epazote, etc. as you please — I simmered one can with a 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp red pepper, 2 garlic cloves, 1/4 cup chopped red onion)
1 handful cilantro, 1 lime cut into quarters, 1 avocado, 1 mango (all optional)
For the rice
Cook the rice in your usual way, on the stovetop or in a rice cooker, but replace one can’s worth of water with the coconut milk, then add in an extra quarter-cup of water. (If making on the stove, put the rice in the pot, add 4.75 cups water, note the level, stir the rice a bit with your hands, and pour out the water. Add in the coconut milk, then add water to the level previously noted.)
For the sauce
Puree all ingredients in a mini food processor to a consistency of your liking. Taste and adjust seasoning.
For the plantain:
Sprinkle the plantain with about 1/2 tsp salt. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat (the depth should be roughly as deep as 1/2 the thickness of the plantain coins). When the oil is hot (it will be shimmering), add the plantain in a single layer. Fry, until brown on one side, about 3 minutes. Flip and cook on the other side until browned and tender, about two more minutes. (Try to flip only once. Also, don’t pierce the plantain with a fork to turn; this would cause oil to go into the plantain, which you don’t want. You want the plantain golden to dark brown when you cook them.) When done, drain the plantains on paper towels.
When you plate and serve, you can garnish the dish with cilantro, lime wedges, and fresh mango and avocado slices if you want.
To get this all done in less than an hour: Begin by chopping everything you need for the puree. As you go, put them in your blender, and let them be. Chop what you will need to season your black beans. Put everything in the pot with your black beans, but don’t turn it on yet. Start the rice. Slice the plantain and sprinkle with salt. Put the oil in the pan. As the oil heats, make the puree then put in a serving dish. Add the plantain to the oil. Turn the beans on low heat. As the plantain fries, slice the fresh mango and avocado, and chop the cilantro. Drain the plantain. Get out the plates.