When I lived in California, one of my favorite places to go to lunch was a Caribbean restaurant down the street from my office. If we were lucky enough to bring leftovers back to the office, someone would always say, “That smells amazing.” At least once a week, we would find ourselves devouring plates full of plantains, beans and rice, and in my case, jerk tofu. Whenever you leave a place behind, you leave the food behind too. And while I am still discovering the gems of the US’s Pacific Northwest, a part of me misses the amazing Caribbean restaurant with the delicious smokey jerk flavors.
It seemed like the perfect time to develop a Caribbean-inspired jerk recipe. Jackfruit is a staple in Jamaican cuisine, so it seemed like an obvious choice. Vanilla bean is less obvious, because it’s indigenous to Mexico and is rarely used in savory dishes. And yet, in this recipe, it offers a subtle complexity that rounds out the flavor profile perfectly. It feels like it was meant to be. It goes without saying, this recipe smells amazing while it cooks. It fills the air with vanilla, allspice, garlic, and smoke. It’s unreal.
In a whole wheat wrap, I combined jerk jackfruit, avocado, fried plantains and baby kale to create today’s offering. For a gluten free option, sub-in a gluten-free wrap, and you are good to go. Frying plantains is fairly easy. Make sure to select a plantain that is black, because it will be more sweet and not chalky. As a variation, you can also enjoy the jerk jackfruit with a side of beans and rice.
Slow Cooker Vanilla Smoke Jerk Jackfruit
2 14 ounce cans of young jackfruit
6 scallions, chopped
4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1-2 jalapeños, chopped
1 whole vanilla bean, sliced down the side
1 cube bouillon (fake beef or fake chicken)
1 ½-2 tsp allspice
¼ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp cloves
½ tsp dried thyme
½-1 tsp liquid smoke
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
¾ cup water
2 ripe plantain (should be black)
2 Tbsp vegan butter
2 cups baby kale
4 whole wheat wraps
1. Put everything listed under “Jerk Jackfruit” in a slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 3-4 hours or LOW for 5-6 hours. When the jackfruit finishes simmer, remove the vanilla bean.
2. To make wraps, when the jackfruit is done simmering, peel the plantains and slice long ways. Melt vegan butter in a skillet over low heat, and add plantains (sliced side down). Allow them to sauté for about 3-5 minutes, and then, flip with a spatula. Sauté until they are toasted to your preference.
3. Assemble the wrap using fried plantains, sliced avocado, baby kale and a generous amount of jerk jackfruit. Serve and enjoy!