Do you feel like you need to add a touch of the tropics to your life? What better way to liven things up than by experimenting with deliciously colourful tropical fruits that are packed with nutrients?
Many of us enjoy snacking on the go with a handy banana or chopping up melon and pineapple into bite sized chunks, but how are tropical fruits used in the places they’re grown?
Filled with colour, nutrition and creativity, Latino cuisine relies heavily on the use of locally sourced legumes, vegetables and of course, tropical fruits. The rich flavour of the traditional dishes is truly reflective of life in the tropical regions. So let’s explore day to day mealtimes in the regions from which our amazing fruits are sourced!
Breakfast in Costa Rica
Costa Rican people live by the mantra of Pura Vida ("Pure Life") which means living peacefully, positively, and in the moment, with happiness and gratitude for the good things in your life – including food. One of the most traditional breakfast dishes eaten in Costa Rica is Gallo Pinto – which translates as "Spotted Rooster"! – consisting of rice, black beans, sour cream, scrambled eggs and fried plantain. Fresh ginger and spices can be added to enhance the flavours even more.
Lunch in Colombia
Most of our bananas are sourced from Central and South America, where the cuisine is diverse, flavorsome and filling. We caught up with Claudia David from Uraba – one of our banana producing regions – so she could tell us a bit more about traditional dishes from the region.
"We are lucky in that we have a lot of different kinds of interesting fruits available to us here, because of the warm climate. Green plantain in particular (a relative of the banana that is abundant here) is something we add to a lot of meals in our family and they always taste great. Patacones, which are deep fried plantains, add a lot of flavour to any meal and are so simple to make. Just peel and slice before frying in vegetable oil. And for a tasty twist we like to sprinkle them with cinnamon!"
Claudia explains that Colombians like to be adventurous when it comes to cooking: "We experiment with different kinds of sweet tropical fruits, spices and vegetables. It keeps things interesting!"
Claudia's Coconut, Banana & Pineapple Cake
1 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 stick butter
1 cup sugar
2 ripe Fyffes bananas, mashed
1 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup crushed pineapple
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour fluted or tube pan. Whisk together the butter and sugar then slowly add in the flour, coconut milk, baking soda, cinnamon, eggs and baking powder. Combine the pineapple and bananas with the mixture and stir well before pouring into the mould. Bake for 45 minutes checking the mixture with a clean knife. Place the cake on a wire rack to completely cool. Drizzle with coconut cream to serve.
Dinner in Peru
From protein rich quinoa to freshly prepared ceviche, Peruvian cuisine is experiencing a surge in popularity across Western culture and it’s not hard to see why. The exotic knack of combining flavours and textures to create something unique and balanced on the palette is the reason why Peruvians are respected worldwide for their traditional dishes. Not to mention they are packed with nutritionally rich fresh ingredients.
Why not play around with traditional Latino recipes to add your own unique twist?
Ceviche with Melon
1 lb freshly cooked prawns
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, about two lemons
1/4 cup fresh lime juice, about 3 limes
4 whole plum tomatoes
2 whole jalapeno peppers
1 cup diced melon
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
Salt and fresh ground pepper
Whisk together the lemon and lime and pour half of the juice over the prawns. Leave to marinade. Add the melon, tomato, jalapeños, onion and herbs to the prawns and toss until all ingredients are covered in the juice. Add in the avocado and rest of juice. Season and serve with tortilla chips.
A Little Bit More about Plantains
Originally from the Far East, green plantains then travelled to Africa, Eygyt and tropical America where they soon became part of everyday meals given their ability to flourish in the subtropical climates.
While they are less sweet than the commonly consumed banana, they can be eaten raw but are mostly baked or fried alongside other popular dishes – often rice based. As the fruit ripens, it becomes sweeter and softer, just like its sister the banana.
Plantains are a great source of fiber and potassium, as well as vitamins A, C B2 & B6, and are a delicious way toward your five a day, however you eat them!
Check out our Savoury Banana Fritters recipe here!
Are you hungry now? If you are looking for further delicious recipe inspirations, please check out our Fyffes kitchen. You will be amazed how easy it can be to give your cuisine a tropical twist. Hasta luego.