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What Are Plantains?

Plantains (plátanos in Spanish) look like large bananas. They are technically fruits, but much like the tomato and unlike the banana, they are eaten and cooked as if they were a vegetable. Harder to peel (especially when green) than bananas, plantains cannot be eaten raw. They must be cooked and are an important part of Central and South American, Caribbean, African, and Southeast Asian cuisines.

Plantains are very versatile and typically inexpensive. They are always ready for cooking no matter what stage of ripeness—green, yellow, or black—and used in a variety of dishes, from appetizers to desserts. They just need to be peeled when raw.

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