Plantain Tostados with Cilantro Lime Chicken, Ranchero Sauce & Guacamole

Posted by on Feb 20, 2013 in Chicken, condiments & sauces, Dinner, grain-free | 50 comments

Plantain Tostados with Cilantro Lime Chicken, Ranchero Sauce & Guacamole

That’s a pretty long recipe name, I know.

It all happened because our plantains were yellow...

It all happened because our plantains were yellow…

So here’s what happened:

Johnny from Eating For Idiots and I decided to have a cooking day together. We have an ongoing texting relationship, in which we talk about food, life, love, tequila, and of course the occasional smack. I harass him on an almost constant basis about being my partner in crime in writing a cookbook, and I think I might have him almost broken down.

But for now, we’ll cook together when we can and see what we can come up with. On Monday, we came up with something pretty great.

It was all a total accident; the plantains I had leftover from the weekend’s paleo popups were yellow, which is exactly in between ripe and not ripe. We attempted to make tostones, but the coconut oil they were frying in foamed up to the top (and over) the pot in protest. This is a good example of how kitchen adventures don’t always go as planned, but it’s almost never the end of the world. Plan B: Throw that S@#% in the food processor and puree. Make latkes. Or since this dish really has nothing to do with Hanukkah, or anything Jewish for that matter, make tostadas.

This recipe has a few parts and steps, but it’s all incredibly simple and there’s hardly any chopping, so don’t fret.

The components are:

Plantain tostadas
Cilantro citrus marinated chicken
Ranchero Sauce

The end result is this.

The end result is this.

You can use any kind of meat for this dish. Johnny’s barbacoa beef comes to mind, as does pulled pork. This chicken recipe is a great option if you want a quick meal.

Preheat oven to 425.

For the chicken:

1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 3 limes
4 garlic cloves
handful cilantro
1 tsp salt
1 tsp chili powder

Put everything but the chicken in a blender, puree, and pour the sauce over the chicken. It’s fine to let the chicken reach room temperature before baking. No need to wash the blender, you’re about to use it again. You’ll bake the chicken when you bake the tostadas, so let the marinade do it’s magic while you prepare the rest of the dish. (I don’t recommend an overnight marinate with this amount of citrus, you’ll wind up with chicken ceviche- not appealing. )

For the Ranchero Sauce:

1 can (14 ounce-ish) fire roasted tomatoes
1 whole roasted pepper
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder (or cayenne if you don’t have chipotle)
coconut oil for sautéing

Saute the onion and garlic in coconut oil over medium heat until golden and soft, about 10 minutes. Add to the blender with the rest of the ingredients. Puree. Transfer to a small sauce pan and bring to a simmer. You can just let it simmer while the rest of the components are cooking, for about 30 minutes or so.

Action shots are tough when it's just me in the kitchen. There will be more in the cookbook ;)

Action shots are tough when it’s just me in the kitchen, but a breeze when Johnny’s around. There will be more in the cookbook ;)

Smoky Ranchero Sauce.

Smoky Ranchero Sauce.

For the latkes tostadas:

2 yellow plantains
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted, plus more for baking tostadas
1 teaspoon salt

Chop the plantains into 2 inch pieces and toss them in the food processor with the melted coconut oil and salt. Puree. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and grease with additional coconut oil. Divide the plantain mixture into 6 blobs on the baking sheet and flatten them out into pancakes as best you can. (Oiled hands help). Bake at 425 for 30 minutes or so, flipping half way.

They were a bit sticky, but oiled hands helped flatten them out.

They were a bit sticky, but oiled hands helped flatten them out.

Way better than a corn tostada, if you ask me. A bit crispy on the edges, a bit chewy in the center.

Way better than a corn tostada, if you ask me. A bit crispy on the edges, a bit chewy in the center. Yummy.

You can put the chicken in to bake at the same time, it should take about as long.

Put it all together!

Chop the chicken into strips. Top each tostada with a couple tablespoons of the Ranchero sauce, some chicken, and guacamole. There’s no exact equation here. You will definitely have extra ranchero sauce leftover, which would be great with eggs, or on some steak, or thrown into a pot of stew to add a smoky flavor. It’s not a bad condiment to have around, is what I’m trying to say here. It should keep in the fridge for a week.


I'm going to have to make these again very soon...

I’m going to have to make these again very soon…

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  1. yumm!! These remind me of a little mexican restaurant I used to eat at in CO. They served chalupas with a thick masa tortilla at the bottom, then layered sliced avocados, sauce, chicken or beef, lettuce, etc. Have been thinking about trying to recreate them and the plantain dough is a great paleo alternative!! I just discovered your blog and feel I have found a chef after my own heart; mostly paleo, loves to bake, a hankering for tequila…
    Do you do yoga too? Red dirt cave girl

    • They definitely remind me of a handmade thick corn tortilla, that’s why I love them! And come to think of it, these would go amazing with some tequila 😉 I don’t do yoga, even though I know I should. There’s finally a studio opening up soon that’s walking distance from my house, so I hope that eliminates any excuse I have not to go!

    • Which CO restaurant?

  2. wooow this looks so good.. i’m a new follower this is all great work here!

    • Thanks! And Welcome!

  3. These are very tempting– but I mon’t think I’ll ever find a plaintain here in Vermont (at least not where I live). They are more starchy than bananas, right? I’m thinking maybe sweet potato slices, baked in the oven for the base. Thanks for a great recipe!

    • Yep, plantains are more starchy than bananas, and handle being cooked a lot differently. A sweet potato base sounds great. Let me know how it turns out if you try it!

  4. I made these this weekend with ripe plantains. I pulverized them with coconut oil in the vitamix and it became a pretty soupy liquid, like pancake batter. So I poured discs of batter onto greased parchment paper and…they came out spectacularly! Everyone in the family ate every bit of these up and asked for me to make this again, which I definitely will. Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

  5. I have made these twice – the first time the plantains were quite ripe, and the tostadas turned out soft, like tortillas! in fact my husband and i though our plantain “tacos” were amazing! Tonight i made them again with green plantains and they turned out thick and crispy on the outside and soft inside, just like mexican sopes! My husband is Mexican and even he agreed they were perfect! thank you!!

    • You’re so welcome, I’m glad you and your husband enjoyed them! I’ve got some plantains that seemed too ripe for this recipe, but maybe I’ll try it based on your tortilla-like results!

  6. So, I made these toastadas, tonight, to go with some pulled pork I did in my crock pot. I had a bit of dough left over, so I pressed some into greased cupcake pans, and molded it into cup shapes. I only had to bake them for about 12 minutes. The cups turned out amazing! They didn’t get toasted on the inside, but the crispiness on the bottom more than made up for that. We loaded them full of meat and avocado. My kids loved them, and they were way easier to eat than the flat version :) Kind of a cool variation!

    • awesome! I love that variation / idea. I’ll have to try it. Aren’t plantains magical?!

  7. I just made this recipe and it was delicious! I am on the sugar detox, so I had to make some minor adjustments; the most notable change was in place of the plantain, I made a zucchini latke-like thing. I love your site! Thank you for amazing cooking inspiration!

  8. I’m super late to this party but OMG this was a really delicious dish! Thank you!

  9. Those tostadas were AMAZING!!!

    • awesome! Thanks Kristin!

  10. These tostadas are the best thing ever. I may never make mexican again without them. My husband is not home from work yet and I have already eaten my three and am tempted to eat the rest without him!
    Oh and by the way you can forgo the oil on the parchment. I had a mild panic attack when I realized I had forgotten it, but mine came off the parchment with no problem at all.

  11. wow!!! this could easily be the best dish i have EVER made! my husband is currently licking his plate! he can’t wait til morning to use the leftover ranchero sauce on his eggs. i added a little to the guac: garlic salt, white onion, and tomato (skipping green onions and cilantro). the plaintain chips absolutely make the dish with a little something sweet at the bottom. seriously, i am in heaven… or a food coma, one or the other. thank you, thank you, thank you!

    • Awesome! I’m so glad you and your husband loved it. Thanks Liz!

      • you may have previously mentioned this but how many servings would you say this recipe makes? thanks!

      • I’d say 2-4, depending on the meat portion you’re dishing out… 4 servings would mean 4 ounces chicken per person, which is enough if you’re serving other side dishes. Or 2 servings if we’re talking about 2 very hungry adults! If you wanted to increase the recipe, you could up the chicken to 1.5 pounds and leave the sauce and tostadas the same and probably be fine.

  12. Hi Zenbelly! I’m new to the Paleo way of eating, and this recipe looks so good! But I wanted to ask, is there a way to adapt this to the slow cooker? Most nights I am home after hubby and kids, and this would be excellent for them to start helping themselves to. The plaintain tostadas, my husband could make when he gets in, but one less step is always a good thing :-)

    • I have never owned or used a slow cooker, so I’m the wrong person to ask! I’m guessing if you have a slow cooker chicken thigh recipe, you could adapt it to have the flavors in this recipe. Or check out Rubies and Radishes; she’s the slow cooker queen!

  13. I made these tonight but mine must have been thinner because they burned to a crisp. I’ll definitely try again and cook them for a shorter period of time.

    • We have made these a few times and it does seem tricky to avoid burning. Not sure if its my oven but I tend to babysit the oven while they cook and check every 8 minutes

      • The tostadas are burning? Are you maybe making them on the thin side? All ovens are a bit different, so perhaps a lower temp would be better next time you try them. Hope that helps!

  14. I pinned this a while ago but hadn’t got round to making it until now. I had such high hopes for it I was afraid if I made it and it wasn’t good I would be sad. Weird I know! I shouldn’t have waited! It was amazing! I forgot the avacado so just topped it with fresh cilantro. So yummy. The plantain cakes are wonderfully sweet and have a bread like mouth feel. Strong flavours make you feel satisfied with smaller portions. I found myself nibbling on the plantain cake just by itself! I can see myself using that for other recipes too!

    • So glad to hear it lived up to your expectations! Definitely try the plantain tortillas, too, I bet you’ll love them :)

  15. How long do you cook the chicken and at what temperature? Is it 30 min. at 425 like the plaintains?

    • Yup. The instructions continue throughout the pictures. I’ll update the recipe when I have time so the whole thing is visible in one view!

  16. This is so brilliant….I could laugh with joy.

    I make tortillas rectangle shaped to use as “flatbread” …
    keeps the ingredients in more…

    I tweaked the Ranchero sauce:

    …..put in oven at 350 for 30-45 minutes the following:
    two quarts/packages of cherry tomatoes quartered for red sauce -and tomatillo for a green sauce and drizzle with olive oil ,
    1/2 yellow onion slices, or your choice of onion/shallot/etc
    10 each Red and orange baby Bell peppers de-stemmed and deseeded.
    1/2 Red and 1/2 Green Jalapeño sliced – no seeds,

    Put baked ranchero sauce into food processor……puree
    Then I put thru sieve to get out small particles to make a silky texture to the sauce and put on stove to reduce by 1/4 slowly…..

    Tasted again….needed something…..SO!!!!

    I put two tablespoon ghee in hot pan…
    added four anchovies (jarred in oil) ..
    stirred and toasted the anchovies (used whisk) added to pureed, strained ranchero sauce…


    if you want a green sauce….use tomatillo tomatoes instead
    Make it Hawaiian with very very small diced grilled pineapple
    Smoke the finished smooth sauce with the
    Make a large red and large green batch and freeze in 1/2 pint jars…or in ice cubes …or seal a meal 1/2 cup of red or green to put in sous vide or boiling water to heat up…pull what you need from freezer for that dinner…that way you always have fresh sauce…..after you defrost what you need for that dinner make up your own added flavors like Hawaiian or Asian or Italian or plain in both Red and Green sauce

    OMG OMG OMG what a wonderful sauce…This will be in my freezer in small sealed freezer bags in 1/4 and 1/2 cup sizes….just decide if you want red or green..and how much you need for that dinner..pull the appropriate size bag of your color choice and put in pan of boiling water to reheat….add Hawaiian, Japanese, Italian or whatever touches or serve plain….

    Thank you so much to my daughter Michelle for sending me your link to this recipe so I can do my thing with it…..Blessings, Anne

  17. I prepared for this recipe too early and my plantains were quite ripe and had black streaks on the peels by the time I was ready to use them. I still decided to try them- they’re amazing! Kind of like fried plantains, sweet and carmelized- they would make an amazing dessert crepe!

  18. Made this last night and it was fantastic! I used about 2.5 pounds of chicken thighs, but left the marinade as is- there was plenty of it to cover all the chicken and now we have leftovers. The plantain tostadas are absolutely brilliant and will be a staple in my kitchen.

  19. The one thing I miss most is corn tortillas–never really liked those white flour kind. Discovered you while searching for pizza dough. What an epiphany. I signed up for your blog & have your book in Wish list.

    • Thanks, Carolyn! So glad you found me. :)

  20. These are so good! Loved the recipe! Thank you!

  21. This was so easy to make and quite tasty. Thank you!

  22. Ok so I have tried 3 ways to make the tostadas…I am very excited to learn the secret to getting them not to stick!! I’m always able to taste how luscious they are, but can’t get them to come off the pan in one piece. I even tried griddling them like a pancake, but that did not work at all. I have tried both parchment and aluminum foil. I have also made them in two different ovens. Please help…I would LOVE to make these all the time! Thanks!

    • Are you greasing the parchment, and not trying to remove them till they’re cooked? I haven’t had the problem of them sticking at all.

  23. Hello Zenbelly- I’m wondering which plantain to use- green or yellow? I see your photo is of yellow plantains, but I would think those are very sweet! I’ve read through the comments and am still not sure which would be best to use. I would prefer something similar to a tortilla, sturdy enough to hold fillings. Last time I fried plantains they were ripe and verrrry sweet, like a dessert. I just am not imagining that going with tacos. Anyway, have you tried using green plantains, or are they too ‘hard’? Thanks!

    • You want them to be juuuust yellow, not yet brown. They are a little bit sweeter than the ripe ones, but soft enough to blend smoothly to make into tortillas. The toughest part is finding plantains that are in between ripe and green! The end result is a touch sweeter than corn tortillas, but not nearly as sweet as you might be picturing from eating ripe fried plantains. Hope that helps!

  24. At this very moment, the tostadas and chicken are baking away in my oven. I am super excited!!!!!! I keep Popping back into the kitchen and eating a bit of the ranchero sauce. So good. I didn’t have chipotle powder so I followed your recommendation and used cayenne pepper, but I didn’t want to miss out on the smokey chipotle like flavor so I added 1/4 teaspoon of smoked paprika to make up for it.

    • Awesome! How’d it come out?

  25. What kind of pepper for the Ranchero sauce?

    • Bell. red orange or yellow.

      • Thank! It is on the menu for this week! :-)

  26. Day 22 of my 30 day and this is by far my favorite recipe!

  27. This is one of the best recipes i have ever tried! I will be making these monthly maybe even weekly =]! Such a good substitute when you’re craving Mexican which in my case is always!!

    • Awesome Jeana! I love this dish, too. I’m so glad to hear it’s working for your Mexican cravings! :)

  28. Yum! This whole dish was delish! I’m Puertorican & my husband and I love plantains. Really liked the Tostados concept. The chicken was so juicy: we used 4 skinless chicken breasts; excellent marinade. The Ranchero sauce was so tasty with the fire roasted peppers & I had roasted a few Red Peppers beforehand and used the biggest one. We also loved the guacamole with the jalapeño (we did skip the soaking in salt water part and just added 1tspn of Real Salt when all mixed). We are doing the Whole30 for the first time, day 28, thank you for the fantastic and full of flavor recipe!


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