- Prep time 15 minutes
- Cook time 50 minutes
- Serves 4 to 6
These are an adaptation of a coastal Ecuadorian recipe that my friend, Kenny, gave me. Traditionally, the plantains are fried, mashed, formed into balls, and then fried again; however, Kenny showed me that boiling the plantains and baking the balls yields results that are just as delicious. The balls can be formed ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to bake them. —Carlos C. Olaechea
Test Kitchen Notes
This baked version of bolón de verde is a riff on the classic fried recipe, but is no less delicious and a wonderful way to start off your morning. First the plantains are simmered in water on the stovetop, then are mashed together to a smooth consistency, formed into balls, and baked in the oven for about 15 minutes. Along with the plantains, savory cooked onions and fried bacon are incorporated into the balls, creating an unforgettable mixture of flavors and textures. Not only can you have these for breakfast, but they're also perfect as a snack on the go. If you want to make these vegetarian, simply omit the bacon, and you can add additional hearty veggies while you cook the onions instead. Feel free to use whatever you need to use up! And if you can't find queso fresco or don't want to go to the store to seek it out, try this recipe with halloumi or ricotta salata. The addition of roasted peanuts and fresh cilantro lend crunch and brightness to the dish too as a wonderful finishing touch.
Instead of baking, you can go the more traditional route by pan-frying the mashed plantains in some hot oil. Let them cool slightly after frying before serving. Whatever way you choose, serving them with a fried egg, some salsa, avocados, tomatoes, and a steaming cup of tea or coffee will lead to a very memorable and delicious breakfast or brunch. You'll find yourself craving these Ecuadorian treats again and again. —The Editors
medium red onion, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lime
kosher salt, plus more
slices bacon, cut into ½-inch pieces
very ripe plantains
queso fresco, finely chopped
coarsely ground roasted unsalted peanuts,
finely chopped cilantro
Vegetable oil, for baking
Sliced avocado and fried eggs, for serving
- Heat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the onion, lime juice, and salt. Stir vigorously until the onions have softened somewhat. Set aside for about 10 minutes.
- In a large skillet over medium heat, fry the bacon until crisp and browned. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate. Reserve the bacon fat in the pan.
- Season a large pot of water with salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, cut off the ends of each plantain. Make an incision down the length of each plantain with a paring knife. Make an incision around the circumference of each plantain at the middle part of each fruit. Using your fingers, pry apart the peel from each plantain at the incisions. (It’s okay if the plantain breaks in half. Make sure to remove any strips of pith or peel that cling onto the plantains. These are tough and can be bitter.)
- Cook the plantains in the pot of boiling water. Wait for the water to come back to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium. Simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes, until tender. You should be easily able to pierce through a plantain with a knife. Remove from the heat and cover the pot. Leave the bananas in the water until you are ready to mash them. If you remove them too soon, they will lose their tenderness and become difficult to mash.
- Rinse and drain the onions, then fry them in the reserved bacon fat. When they start to soften, add the cayenne pepper and cumin. Continue to fry the onions until golden brown, then remove the pan from the heat.
- Drain the water from the pot with the plantains. Mash the plantains with a potato masher or a fork until broken up. Add the fried onions, bacon, queso fresco, peanuts, and cilantro and mix well to combine. Season with salt.
- Form the plantain mix into balls. You can choose to make large balls for a main course or small balls for a cocktail-party appetizer. Arrange the balls on the prepared sheet and brush with the oil. Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly golden and crisp.