When we kicked off our current recipe contest—bananas and plantains—we braced ourselves for a wave of quick breads and layer cakes. And by braced ourselves, we mean, opened our arms and put on our stretchiest pants, grabbed our loaf pans and cake stands, and said, “We’re ready, world! Bring it!”
And you did. We received oodles of submissions—even more than our prior contest, Your Best Hands-Off Recipe—and roughly one third were bready or cakey.
Some other fun facts: We had more banana than plantain recipes. Of those bananas, most were sweet, not savory. On the flip side, most of the plantain recipes were savory. All of which will become very surprising when we announce—drumroll, please!—our top five recipes, in no particular order:
Herby Green Plantain Patties. Recipe author Rashda Khan writes: “My Bengali mother always fed us plantain dishes to help us recover from any and all illnesses, be it the common cold or a broken foot. Her mantra was that full-of-nutrition plantains helped strengthen the body. Usually, she served us a mild fish and plantain curry over steamed rice, but sometimes she would make these amazing plantain cakes—soft and spicy inside, crisp and golden outside.” These are Rashda's update: pan-fried instead of deep-fried, plus lots of fresh herbs. She recommends serving them with a dip, from tamarind chutney to yogurt sauce, but we couldn’t stop eating them just as is.
Lentejas (Mexican Lentil Stew). This recipe hails from Oaxaca, Mexico, where Emily found her new favorite restaurant, Casa Crespo while on vacation: “We ate here 3 times in an 11-day trip.” Lucky for us, she asked the chef, Oscar Carrizosa, for the recipe. And even luckier, he shared it. Our recipe tester raved: “The plantain flavor is wonderful. I've made many batches of lentejas in my life and this is high up on the list—it's also very easy.”
Pastelón with a Southern Twist. We hadn’t heard of pastelon before—and, for awhile, the author of this recipe, caffeinefueledrobot, hadn’t either: “Pastelón is a Puerto Rican dish that I did not discover until I visited San Juan in my early 20s. Mind you, I am part Puerto Rican and quickly asked my mom why she never made it for me!” The dish is a layered casserole with plantains, cheese, tomato sauce, and ground beef. This version also includes bacon, cacoa nibs, and ancho chili powder.
Caramelized Banana Upside-Down Cake. Sometimes, simple does it. We’ve known that you can incorporate just about any fruit into an upside-down cake for awhile. But bananas? How and why have we never tried this before? Jessie Sheehan leads the way. The brown sugary, caramely top reminds us of bananas fosters. The buttermilk yellow bottom, of the best birthday cake. Bonus points for a scoop of vanilla ice cream or big dollop of whipped cream alongside.
Pan Suisse with Banana Miso Pastry Cream. Pan suisse is a French pastry—yeast-raised, buttery brioche, stuffed with pastry cream and chocolate chips. Or, as Sophia R puts it: “small custard-filled brioche fingers that fuelled many a long day working when I was a junior commercial lawyer in London.” To make a good thing even better, her recipe riffs on the pastry cream—blending it with fresh banana and miso. Yes, please, and thank you.
And another thank you! Thank you, so much, to everyone who submitted. Getting to these five was not an easy decision—actually, it was really hard—because it was a total joy to sort (and cook and bake!) through these entries. We value every one and hope you all enjoyed eyeing up (and cooking and baking) the competition.
Next week, we’ll test all of these recipes (again!) in our office, to help us narrow down to our two finalists. We hope that you’ll test these, too, and share feedback in these recipes’ respective comment sections. We take everything into account. For now, share your congrats below!
Which recipe do you want to make first? Let us know in the comments!
Emma was the food editor at Food52. She created the award-winning column, Big Little Recipes, and turned it into a cookbook in 2021. These days, she's a senior editor at Bon Appétit, leading digital cooking coverage. Say hello on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.
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