Michael spent some time in Puerto Rico a couple of years ago and developed a love for plantains. We incorporate them into our cooking whenever we can. We love frying them in our air fryer to make tostones, but when cooked and blended, they are also the perfect texture for dough. That's where these plantain crust cheesy garlic breadsticks come in. The taste of this dough is totally neutral, and plantains are loaded with nutrients that traditional bread dough isn't. These breadsticks are perfect if you're following a gluten-free diet, but they're also great if you're just trying to be a little healthier. And don't worry, just because these breadsticks are healthy-ish doesn't mean they're not loaded with tasty, stringy cheese. Just look at that cheese pull. Perfect for your New Year's Resolution that you're only kind of following.
Here's what you need.
- Plantains. Plantains are part of the banana family, but they're starchier and less sweet than bananas, and they're usually eaten cooked instead of raw. When you buy your plantains, you want to look for green plantains, not yellow. As they ripen and turn yellow, they become less starchy and more sweet, which isn't ideal for this recipe. Depending on where you're located, you may be able to find plantains at your normal grocery store. We buy big packs at Costco or Sam's Club. If you're unable to find them at your local grocery store or wholesale club, you should be able to find them at international grocery stores.
- Tapioca flour/starch. Tapioca flour (also called tapioca starch) is a common ingredient in gluten-free baking, and helps make this dough less sticky and more workable. It's usually found in the gluten-free baking section or in the flour aisle. You can also buy tapioca flour online (but it's usually cheaper at the grocery store). I like Bob's Red Mill.
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Shredded parmesan cheese
- Pantry ingredients/spices: Olive oil, butter, garlic, crushed red pepper, garlic powder, salt, and baking powder
- Food processor. We have this Cuisinart Food Processor and really love it--it can handle anything.
- Sheet pan
- Basting brush (optional). I love our basting brushes for spreading olive oil or butter on dough, but your hands or the back of a spoon work well too.
Here's how you make these cheese sticks.
First, preheat your oven to 425.
Next, make the dough. Score all sides of each plantain from tip to tip (with the peels on). Place them on a plate and microwave for 7-8 minutes, or until the peels have turned completely black. Then remove the peels. You may have to wait for them to cool a bit before handling--they will be hot.
Place the peeled plantains in a food processor. If your food processor isn't strong, you may want to slice the plantains into small chunks first. Add tapioca flour/starch, olive oil, baking powder, salt, and garlic powder to the food processor with the plantains and process on high until the dough comes together. Ours usually takes several minutes, and you may have to stop the processor several times to scrape down the edges. If your dough isn't coming together after several minutes, gradually add more olive oil (the amount of oil needed may vary based on the size of your plantains).
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Put the dough onto the sheet pan, and use your hands to spread the dough until it's about a quarter of an inch thick. I've tried this with my hands and with a rolling pin, and I've found that my hands work better--the dough tends to stick to a rolling pin. Add olive oil to the top of the dough and spread evenly with your hands or with a basting brush.
Place in the oven and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the crust is no longer soft and the edges are beginning to turn golden brown.
Meanwhile, combine olive oil, melted butter, crushed red pepper and minced garlic in a bowl. When the crust is done, remove it from the oven and coat with the olive oil and butter mixture. Then add the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Place back into the oven until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. For super bubbly cheese, place it under the broiler for about a minute.
Cut the breadsticks into strips and serve with your favorite marinara sauce. Enjoy your guilt-free, gluten-free breadsticks!
Can I turn these breadsticks into pizza?
Absolutely! After you've added the olive oil and butter mixture, coat the crust with your favorite pizza or marinara sauce, then add cheese and your desired pizza toppings! This dough has such a neutral taste, it's the perfect canvas for any toppings. Just keep in mind that this dough produces a thin and crispy style pizza, not a thick, yeasty pizza.