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Roasted plantains with nuts and mexican goat milk caramel


4 small to medium black-ripe plantains (for substitute fruit, see note) 1 cup (loosely packed) pecan or walnut halves or whole almonds ½ cup cajeta (Mexican goat milk caramel), available at well-stocked groceries and Mexican markets

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Cut pointed ends off each plantain, exposing small amount of flesh. On inner curved side of each, make a shallow slit through the skin. Lay plantains on baking sheet and roast in oven until completely soft and any exposed flesh has richly browned (about 20 minutes).

While plantains are roasting, pour nuts into medium ungreased skillet and set over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until fragrant and very lightly browned (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat.

When plantains are ready, remove from oven and let cool slightly. One by one, peel back skin and slice flesh into roughly ½-inch pieces (slice directly on, but not through, the plantain skin).

Pile pieces into irregular mound on skin, then lift pieces and skin onto a small deep serving plate. Drizzle each plantain with a portion of cajeta; sprinkle with nuts.

To grill-roast plantains: Simply lay plantains on medium-hot section of grill and turn occasionally until soft and richly browned (5 to 8 minutes).

To substitute plantains with other fruit: Choose a large apple, pear, peach or nectarine per person, peel (if desired), halve and core or pit them; then lay halves flat-side down on baking sheet. Spray or brush lightly with vegetable oil and sprinkle with a little sugar. Roast in 500-degree oven until soft and richly browned (usually about 20 minutes). Transfer to small, deep serving dishes; top with cajeta and nuts (almonds go particularly well with peaches and nectarines).

Other substitutes include apricots (3 or 4 per person; no need to peel), figs (4 or 5 per person; leave whole); mango (1 medium per person; peel, cut flesh from pit, and cut into large spears), and pineapple (a medium size will serve 4 or 5; peel, core, and cut into thick slices).

Rick Bayless

Nutrition facts per serving: 450 calories, 20 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 65 g carbohydrates, 11 g protein, 32 mg sodium, 7 g fiber