Grandma’s recipes are always the best.
Souvenirs of a dish from childhood have this way of sweeping back emotions.
I am currently reading Anthony Bourdain’s great testimonial “Kitchen Confidential“, and he too believes the same.
In the the early pages, he recalls his very first true culinary experience.
He was barely 9 years old, and was traveling transatlantic by boat to visit his Fathers homeland France for the very first time. One night, he was served by an elegant majordome a soup that to his great surprise was cold. Cold! Yes… But delicious, he thought!
He was told it was a Vichyssoise. This thick traditional French soup made of boiled and puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream, and chicken stock is typically served cold, and to him, that was a great revelation. Up till then, soup was a warm dish to him (and to most of us). That night, his world tipped as he took an interest for the culinary arts.
This was his first REAL experience of food, he says. For the first time, he felt like he was discovering textures, flavors, smells and sensations in his plate.
“… Eating should be a submissive experience, where you let down your guard and enjoy the ride.”
— Anthony Bourdain
Most children will have an encounter of the sort. One or two dishes from childhood that they may have loved or hated, that sticks to them.
My maternal grandmother was not one for the cooking, but with her heart of gold, she was known to maintain at all times an open house, where guests of all cross-roads were welcomed.
For this reason, the already large family required an extra large dining table with over 20 seatings. Lunch was always a loud and animated experience at my grandmothers’, with lots of laughter, unforgettable stories told by all ages, and quite a few funny passing characters from time to time.
One of the weekly favorites on her meal plan was rolled sweet plantains stuffed with ground beef, and topped with a little cheese. Come to think of it, she probably is the only one I know that was meal planning 20 to 30 years ago. It was probably the case with your grandma too, but I don’t recall my mother doing so. Meal planning has come back, but was maybe some old habit of the past.
Anyway, these sweet plantain rolls with savory meat were delicious, and everyone loved them.
This inspired me to make them an alter the recipe turning it in a pasta-less lasagna, layering delicious strips of sweet plantains, with meat and cheese. Pure delight.
This gluten-free dish served with a side of watercress salad, is delicious and will leave your guests wanting seconds.
You may serve it as a starter, or as a main dish, whichever you choose. However, one thing is for sure, if your table is anything like those lunches at “Au Galop” the family house, there will be none left.
Sweet plantain lasagna
Delicious and gluten-free lasagna made of sweet plantains and ground meat.
For the meat
- 2 lb ground beef
- 3 tbsp creole garlic marinade (or 1 tbsp garlic paste)
- 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
- 1/2 tbsp Italian herbs
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup ketchup
For the plantains
- 5 ripe sweet plantains (about 2 lb)
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup mozzarella shredded
- 1.5 cups tête de maure shredded (or parmesan)
- 2 cups ricotta
- 1/2 cup beef broth
Mix meat with all the seasoning.
In a sauté pan, add your olive oil and sauté the meat until fully cooked.
Add in your ketchup and mix well. Set aside.
Preheat your oven at 400°F.
Thinly slice your sweet plantains into long strips.
In a large fry pan, add half of your vegetable oil and fry your plantain slices a few at a time, allowing them not to touch so they don't stick. About 4 minutes each side. You want them golden and charred.
Remove from oil, and lay flat on paper towel. Start over, until all your sweet plantain is ready.
In a mixing bowl, mix your ricotta cheese with mozzarella.
In a large baking dish, line the bottom with sweet plantains. Save the prettier ones for the top.
Top with ground meat and then ricotta.
Add another layer of sweet plantains and repeat.
Drizzle with beef broth evenly.
Top with sweet plantains and sprinkle your parmesan or tête de maure cheese on top.
Bake at 400°F for 40 minutes. Serve hot.
You can find the recipe to my creole garlic marinade recipe here.