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October 28, 2017

Black Beans, Kale, and Plantains: Soft Tacos or Bowls

by Anne Paddock

Ordinary tacos or bowls can become ho-hum so when it’s time to spice things up a bit, consider making soft tacos or bowls with black beans, kale, and plantains.  Add the usual toppings – chopped, sweet multi-colored tomatoes and chunky guacamole –  for flavor, color, and pizzazz and consider sprinkling pumpkin seeds on the tops of the bowls or tacos for an added crunch (I use activated sprouted salted pumpkin seeds but some people prefer the unsalted variety and that’s just fine).

Inspired by a recipe (Plantain Bowl with Black Beans and Loaded Guacamole) from the Purple Carrot, the following recipe is an adaptation that focuses more on the key ingredients (kale, black beans, plantains, and avocado) while eliminating pomegranate seeds and oil, adding tomatoes, and offering an alternative to a bowl:  soft tacos.

Black Beans, Kale, and Plantains:  Tacos or Bowls (makes 4 bowls or 8 tacos)


  • 1 5-ounce container organic baby kale
  • 1 15-ounce can organic black beans (no salt added), drained and rinsed
  • 1 plantain, peeled and sliced vertically into 2 inch pieces
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 cup chopped red and yellow tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds (raw, roasted, salted or unsalted)
  • 8 tortillas, optional

Make the guacamole by scooping out the insides of the avocados into a small bowl. Squeeze the lime juice over the avocado and smash the avocado with a fork. Add the chopped red onion and cilantro to the avocado mixture and stir to blend. Add sea salt to taste. Set aside.

If making tacos, wrap the soft tortillas in aluminum foil and place in a 200 degree oven for about 10 minutes to warm them up. Turn the oven off and leave the wrapped tortillas in the oven while you make the filling.

Spray grapeseed, canola, or your preferred non-stick spray onto the bottom of a large non-stick frying pan. Lay out the sliced plantains and lightly salt the tops. Turn the stove on to medium and cook 3-4 minutes until the underside is brown. Turn over, gently salt, and cook the other side until brown. Turn the heat off and cover the pan with a lid. Set aside.

Place 2 tablespoons water in a large sauté pan along with the baby kale and turn the heat on medium.

Cook for about 2 minutes, just until the kale starts to wilt. Add the drained and rinsed black beans and gently stir for about 2 minutes until the black beans are hot.

Turn the heat off. Prepare to assemble the bowls or soft tacos.

Fill the bowl with the kale and black bean mixture, the chopped tomatoes, guacamole, and plantains. Top with pumpkin seeds and serve.

If making tacos, place a large spoonful of the kale and black bean mixture in the bottom center of the soft tortilla and top with 2 pieces of plantain, the guacamole, chopped tomatoes, and pumpkin seeds, if using.

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