Bananas have been in the spotlight ever since one was duct-taped to a wall in the name of art during Miami’s Art Basel last December. Now, due to the increase in home baking during COVID-19 quarantine, banana bread photos are all over Instagram and Twitter.
Thanks to an oversupply of bananas on my last grocery delivery order I’ve made enough banana bread to give to neighbors and friends.
Banana bread might be a go-to crowd-pleaser, but after baking loaf after loaf, I’ve had enough. There are many other creative ways to use those surplus bananas sitting on your kitchen counter.
Don’t toss them out when brown spots start appearing because ripe bananas are welcome additions to pancakes, brownies, French toast, banana ice cream, banana cream pie and smoothies. They are also enjoyable grilled, sauteed or baked to serve alongside grilled fish, poultry or meat.
Bananas are commonly used to make Indian chutney or in curried dishes.
The Cavendish is the most common banana variety sold in the supermarket, but there are more than 300 varieties. Red bananas, small finger bananas, and slightly larger manzano bananas can be frequently found in markets.
Bananas are picked green to ripen uncovered at room temperature. Ripe bananas can be stored in the refrigerator for three to four days, but the peel will darken. The darker and uglier they get, the more flavor they’ll bring to your recipe.
To freeze, peel and cut up into slices and freeze in a single layer on baking sheet. When frozen, place in an airtight freezer bag to use in shakes, smoothies, and ice cream.
One of the best things you can do with frozen bananas is to spin them into a creamy “ice cream.” Place 2 frozen bananas, 1/4 cup yogurt, and sweetener of your choice in a blender or food processor and pulse until smooth. I sometimes add frozen strawberries, or mangoes, and if I’m craving chocolate, I’ll add a few tablespoons of Nutella.
Adapted from “Once Upon a Chef” by Jennifer Segal, Chronicle Books ($29.99).
Segal writes, “Fluffy on the inside, crispy on the outside, and delicately flavored with bananas and vanilla — these are amazing pancakes. The recipe, believe it or not, is adapted from Williams-Sonoma’s ‘The Kid’s Cookbook,” so you know they’re simple to make. I like to top them with a heap of fresh sliced bananas to dress them up and hint at what’s inside.”
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 small, overripe banana (the browner, the better)
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
Unsalted butter, for frying
Vegetable oil, for frying
Pure maple syrup and sliced bananas (optional), for serving
1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.
2. In a medium bowl, mash the banana with a fork until almost smooth. Whisk in the eggs. Add the milk and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Pour the banana mixture and melted butter into the flour mixture. Fold the batter gently with a rubber spatula until just blended; do not overmix. The batter should be thick and a bit lumpy.
3. Set a griddle or nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Put ½ tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon vegetable oil on the griddle and swirl it around until the butter is melted. Using a 2-oz ladle or ¼-cup dry measure, drop the batter onto the griddle, spacing the pancakes about 2-inches apart. Cook until a few holes form on the top of each pancake and the undersides are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes and cook until the bottoms are golden brown and the tops are puffed, 1 to 2 minutes more. Using the spatula, transfer the pancakes to a warm serving plate.
4. Wipe the griddle clean with paper towels, add more butter and oil, and repeat with the remaining batter. Serve the pancakes while still hot, topped with maple syrup and sliced bananas (if using).
Yield: 12 four‑inch pancakes