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Easy meals: beef or cauliflower steak with sweet plantains

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Food is a pleasure, and cooking is the gateway to a garden of delights. A simple ripe plantain can be boiled, fried, roasted, or mashed. It's rich, sweet flavor complements pretty much anything that you put with, but it works best with something spicy. A staple in most Carribean kitchens, it can be ready in minutes, and is just that much more interesting than a potato.

This is an easy meal, quick and flavorful. Pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a pan, adding a teaspoonful of garlic and a small, thinly sliced onion. Add a sliced plantain (you'll know it's ripe if the skin is black) and saute until the slices are browned and slightly caramelized.You can add spinach for color, as this examiner did (see photo). Remove the plantain and add a thawed minute steak, rubbed with salt and pepper. Pan sear on both sides and serve with plantain, and salad or rice.

An alternative to beef is the cauliflower steak. A mention in Jeffrey Steingarten's article in the May issue of Vogue alluded to a recipe for cauliflower on foodie site Food 52. This particular recipe, created by Dan Barber, is for cauliflower steak served over cauliflower puree? But at the time that this examiner experimented with making it, hunger and laziness led to a tasty cauliflower steak heaped with the leftover sauteed florets. The plantains cooked with diced bacon while the cauliflower cooked.

This is a simple dish to prepare; it's just a matter of slicing a head of cauliflower into two inch wide steaks. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and brown them in a skillet with two tablespoons of vegetable oil for about 2 minutes.Transfer the skillet full of cauliflower to the oven for about 10 minutes. Serve with the plantains and garden salad dressed with a simple lemon vinaigrette.

Simple, easy, delicious. Cooking. Who knew?

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