The first two people who served me this side dish were of Puerto Rican extraction so I called it Puerto Rican Green Banana Salad or Escabeche de Guineos. Actually, it is common throughout the Caribbean because it evolved by eating green bananas as a starchy substance when times are tough. In addition to being called Green Banana in English, it is also referred to as Green Fig Salad although there is no relationship with Figs as most Americans understand the word. This is not to be confused with plantains which appear to be big green bananas as this salad is made from regular unripe starchy bananas.
I would imagine this side dish evolved from an era when you had fields of bananas and none ripe and nothing to feed the kids for lunch. The solution is simple, boil the green bananas and toss them in a salad with whatever you have. The recipes are more standard now but there are still personal and regional variations. Of course, the source for my recipe is once again my friend Chino who shared his kitchen with anybody who liked to drink beer and keep him company while he was cooking. This was not as difficult as going to a culinary college so I found myself joining him quite frequently.
At a Crucian Breakfast or Brunch, you will traditionally find a salt-fish dish, johnnycake, various fritters and Green Banana Salad. After that the variety of side dishes for breakfast is an endless combinations of old fashioned foods. At other meals Green Fig can be served as a side dish from a bowl like seasoned rice or any other vegetable or can be garnished and served as a salad as above. Eating it on new years will bring you green for the year.
2 Green Bananas
¼ cup olive oil
2 T. distilled white vinegar
2 T. lemon juice
10 sliced green Spanish Olives stuffed with pimento
1T. Crushed Garlic
1 tsp. capers
1 Onion thin sliced and separated into rings.
½ green pepper cut into thin rings
1 bay leaf
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. Pepper
- Cut the ends off the green bananas and score it lengthwise. Try not to go deeper than the skin as a deep cut will discolor. Leave the skins on and boil for 20-25 minutes on the stove top or cut in half put in coffeepot and run 10 cups of water through the coffeemaker let stay on hot plate covered with foil for 1 hour.
- Remove skin from the cooked bananas and slice into pieces – your choice I have seen them cut from 3/8 inch discs to 1 inch long pieces. Some people serve them whole without any dressing. They are all good. I used about ½ inch pieces.
- Put all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix with a fork until evenly distributed.
- Add bananas and gently toss until all are coated with the dressing and blended with the other ingredients.
- Serve from the Bowl or make as a side salad.
- For the simple salad plate, I used a bed of lettuce and fresh ripe tomatoes locally grown.
Winter is our strongest growing season for vegetables as that is when it is cool enough to grow a lot of North American summer crops. We have fantastic tomatoes and cucumbers but since the salad was already white, I left the cucumbers out for appearance but if you like cucumbers and have them on hand, why not include them?