Vegan Plantain Burrito Bowl with Mango Salsa – This easy vegan burrito bowl gets tons of flavor from black beans, cilantro lime rice, crispy plantains, and a fresh mango salsa. (Gluten Free, Vegan)
This post is written in partnership with Sprouts Farmer’s Market–my favorite stop for fresh produce, gluten and dairy free goodies, and so much more! All opinions are my own.
Build-your-own dinners are my family’s favorite kind of dinners. Why? Well no one flat-out refuses the meal because it’s “ruined” (aka mixed together). AND everyone builds their own combinations, so both my picky eaters feel MUCH happier getting to eat something they “made.”
Burrito bowls are one of our favorites–both kids love rice and each one loves to mix and match options for the toppings. These vegan plantain burrito bowls with black beans and mango salsa are a BIG WIN.
What Makes This Recipe Great:
Everyone Can Build Their Own! To start with, kids often feel more likely to try and eat new foods when they feel like they have some control. Build-your-own dinners eliminate short-order cooking and give kids a sense of ownership and participation in their meal. A win for everyone!
Fresh Mango Salsa – Next, I love, love, love this quick homemade mango salsa. Sophie (my mango lover) does too! Ripe, juicy mango brings sweetness, while a little onion, cilantro, lime, and jalapeño round out the flavors. And YOU control the heat in this mango salsa. Don’t miss my tips for controlling the heat below!
Quick Cuban Black Beans – Then, there’s the beans! These are shortcut seasoned black beans with a Cuban-inspired twist. Pantry staple spices like Sprouts organic cumin and chili powder wake up canned black beans and give them a cooked-all-day flavor without much effort! (I love Sprouts’ no salt added organic canned black beans!)
Cilantro Lime Rice – I love this combination. Adding cilantro and lime juice brightens up plain rice and makes it extra delicious. Feel free to swap in brown rice, or cooked quinoa for a more nutrient-dense option. Or, take a lower-carb route and go for cilantro lime cauliflower rice!
Crispy Plantains – No deep-frying necessary! I’ve pan-fried some plantains in just a little bit of high-heat oil (see my notes below) and the end result is delicious. A little crispy, a little salty, a little starchy…they’re perfect!
New to Plantains? Here’s What You Should Know:
They’re not bananas. They *look* like bananas and they’re often sold near the bananas, but plantains are not bananas. They’re actually a starchy cousin of the banana, and they typically don’t taste very sweet. Like bananas, they’re a great source of potassium, but they have more fiber and they’re more like a potato in texture–starchy and light.
They need to be cooked. Unlike a banana, which you can easily eat raw, you’ll probably want to cook your plantains before eating them.
Green vs. Yellow vs. Brown. Green plantains look like super unripe bananas, but are totally usable. They cook up more crisp and starchy and make great chips or crisps. When the plantains turn yellow, they take on a sweeter taste and will get nice and caramelized when you cook them. They’re perfect for making fried plantains! By the time they get to the brown/black stage, they’re still perfectly find to eat, but they’ll be at their sweetest and would be more likely to be used as dessert.
Where to Find Them – They’re a fantastic grain free starchy option that works well for paleo eaters and grain eaters alike. I get them at Sprouts near the bananas. They’re inexpensive, easy to fix, and a fun meal option to add into your rotation!
Notes on these Vegan Burrito Bowls:
Some Like it Hot (and Some Don’t!) – You can easily control the heat in this dish to match your spice tolerance. The amount of heat below is great for mild salsa lovers, but you can easily add more jalapeño to turn up the heat, or add a little chipotle chili powder to the salsa to spice things up even more! If you like it super-duper mild, I’ve also got a tip for that in the recipe notes!
Tricks for Plantains – I buy my plantains green and let them ripen to the yellow stage on the counter. It only takes a day or two, but then I don’t have to worry about them going brown before I get to them. It’s easy to keep an eye on them this way! (I actually do the same thing with avocados–works like a charm!)
High Heat Oil & My Favorite Tips for Getting Perfectly Golden Plantains – I like to cook my plantains in a cast iron pan. They get the most even golden color on cast iron. Do know that cast iron retains heat a bit better than other pans do, so if you find your plantains are browning faster than you like just turn the heat down a bit. For frying, I always recommend high-heat oil. You can choose avocado (more neutral in taste) or coconut oil (which will add some sweetness), which both hold up well under high heat.
Other Goodies to Add to These Bowls – These are terrific as written, with cilantro lime rice, quick Cuban black beans, mango salsa, and crispy plantains. If you want more crunch, you could easily add a scoop of my honey lime cilantro slaw (swap agave for the honey for a vegan version!). I also love adding a drizzle of tomatillo ranch and some sliced avocado (who’s surprised?) or some fresh guacamole to top them off!
Like These? I Bet You’d Also Love…
- My Ultimate Guide to Guacamole
- Pico de Gallo Quinoa Bowls (includes a recipe for cilantro/lime quinoa)
- Tomatillo Ranch Dressing (delicious drizzled over top!)