Plantain and Pinto Stew with Aji Verde

19 reviews / 5 average

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Plantains and more plantains!

Three cheers for this starchy vegetable that can go savory OR sweet on you, or in the case of today’s recipe, a little spicy, too.

This recipe is incredibly vibrant and full of nutritious good stuff! But that is secondary to the fact that it just tastes very, very delicious.

This plantain and pinto bean situation is more of a thick stew than a soup, and it’s like a melting pot of spices, aromatics, and fresh, tender-cooked vegetables like plantains and bell peppers and kale. The cumin, smoked paprika, and chili powder warm it up, the pinto beans bulk it out a bit, and the plantains are the perfect bite-sized chunks of slightly-sweet creaminess that we need in a stew.

Okay, but that’s not all.

I cannot recommend this stew without also recommending that you serve it topped with a swizzle of a spicy green sauce called aji verde, which is 10/10 delicious and full of creamy cilantro flavor and will also possibly start your mouth on fire. In a good way. It’s VERY GOOD.

Tomatoes, pinto beans, jalapeños, lime, plantains, and cilantro on a cutting board.

Hear me out. I intentionally didn’t add a lot of spice to the stew – you can serve it to your most spice-avoidant family members and they will be good to go! The stew itself is more sweet and smoky. No heat necessary.

But the aji verde is where all the spice lives, so each person can add that sauce to their fiery little heart’s content. None for him, tons for her, medium amount for that person, and just like that everyone is eating beautifully wholesome food, getting their optimal flavor-and-spice kicks, and feeling really good.

Spoonful of plantain and pinto stew.

This stew makes amazing leftovers. Like, really truly, the kind you look forward to eating for lunch when you wake up in the morning. Keep the sauce handy in a little squeeze bottle because you’re going to be reaching for that more than once.

This plantain and pinto bean stew does really well on its own, in a bowl, like a soup. But it also does really well heaped over a pile of white or brown (or cauli!) rice as just a cozy little home for all those veggies to rest and all the flavorful tomatoey juices to soak in.

You’re ready. You’re on fire. Don’t forget the sauce.

Watch How To Make This Recipe:

I happened across this lovely black bean and plantain stew from Afro Vitality Eats the other day which is what inspired me to start combining some of the ingredients you see here. Plantains are a cousin to the banana and they are grown around the world, accounting for 85% of all banana cultivation worldwide. The more you know! This stew isn’t a traditional recipe that is specific to any particular culture or region, as far as I understand, but if you know differently feel free to let us know in the comments. On the flip side, aji verde is a Peruvian green sauce that is creamy, herby, and hot, hot, hot! I based my less-traditional version off the aji verde recipe from A Cozy Kitchen.

Common Questions About Plantain and Pinto Stew with Aji Verde

How ripe should my plantains be?

For this recipe, we like to have the plantains be medium-ripe – so they’re soft and just starting to turn yellow / brown on the peel. If you use very ripe plantains, they will be very sweet (also delicious but just a different taste)! If you use under-ripe plantains, they will be very starchy and take longer to cook (like a dense raw potato).

Is the stew spicy?

The stew itself has a lot of flavor, but we wouldn’t say it’s spicy. You can certainly add more spice (hot peppers, cayenne, etc.) to the stew itself if you like! I personally like to keep the spice contained in the sauce – that way the adults can eat the stew + sauce together, and our daughter can eat a milder version of the plain stew.

How do I store leftover aji verde?

We’d recommend storing it in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

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Plantain and Pinto Stew with Aji Verde

  • Author: Lindsay
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 56 servings 1x


Our new favorite warm and nutritious stew filled with pinto beans, plantains, tomatoes, kale, and lots of cozy spices. Top it with a swizzle of a spicy green sauce called aji verde and you’re in flavor town.



For the Stew:

  • 1 small white onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (more to taste)
  • two 14-ounce cans fire-roasted diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 12 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (more to taste)
  • 2 medium-ripe plantains, peeled and sliced into small half-moon shapes
  • one 15-oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups kale, shredded
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

For the Aji Verde:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 3 ounces of queso fresco (optional)
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, ribs and seeds removed, roughly chopped (add more for more heat!)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • juice of 1 lime
  • pinch of salt (to taste)


  1. Shortcut (Optional): Place the onion, garlic, and bell pepper in a food processor and pulse them through for quick and easy chopping!
  2. Sauté the Veggies: Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add the onions, garlic, and peppers. Sauté for 5 minutes until soft. 
  3. Build the Stew: Add the cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika, tomatoes, and vegetable broth. Bring to a low simmer.
  4. Cook the Plantains: Add in the plantains. Simmer for another 15 minutes. Add in the pinto beans and kale. Heat until the kale is softened. Stir in the cilantro.
  5. Aji Verde Sauce: Blend up all aji verde sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender until smooth. This sauce is spicy!
  6. Serve It Up: Serve in bowls with rice (optional) and a swirl of aji verde! Also delicious on its own or with a fried egg on top! Yummm.


  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Peruvian-Inspired

Keywords: plantains, plantain stew, pinto beans, aji verde, vegetarian stew, vegetarian soup, plantain recipe

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Recipe rating


  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This looks so deeeeelish. Looks suuper healthy for people looking to lose weight and a healthy vegan meal. I used to love eating plantains growing up in Brooklyn. I never thought of adding plantains to stew. Perhaps that might be something to experiment with in the future to see how it turns out for me. 🙂

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Queso fresco is a soft Mexican cheese made from cow’s milk usually served crumbled over dishes. I’d say the taste is similar to fresh mozzarella.

        1. Pinch of Yum Logo

          Ripe plantains are sweet so if you want that sweetness then sweet potato could work. If not and just want the carby goodness then regular potatoes would do.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      You list that this receipe much 6 servinhd
      but how much is one serving. 1 cup, 1/2 cup, what? As a diabetic, this is important information too me. Thank you

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      I usually sub full fat Greek yogurt for Mayo. Sour cream works too but is also really fatty. When subbing Greek yogurt some things need more salt or oil for texture and flavor.
      Maybe poy has a different idea though.

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I’ve never had plantains, so idk if I even like it. can I skip it or replace it with something else.

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo


    I thought at first I was seeing things wrong when I first viewed the new Pinch of Yum blog layout. I absolutely love it. Maybe it’s time for me to get my website facelift done hopefully sometime this year, by no later than next summer.

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    SO delicious! Will be making again next week. Only thing is I almost forgot to add the paprika and chili powder since in the written instructions it only mentioned adding the cumin! So quickly added those in a little later in the process. Thanks for this amazing recipe though. Loved getting those sweet plantain bites, yum!!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Thank you for always being creative and engaging with your inspiring food blogs, Lindsay. Had to double back around the block, and give you a shoutout for such great work! 🙂

    2. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Yes, we also love those pops of sweetness from the plantain! Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try!

    3. Pinch of Yum Logo

      @Lindsey I noticed the paprika and chili powder were missing from the instructions too. Like Anchorman reading from the teleprompter, I need detailed direction.

      This was really an impressive stew and will be a new winter staple for us. It’s a new and improved chili and the aji sauce gives it the creaminess without overloading with cheese which is my fault with standard chili.

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo
        Krista @ Pinch of Yum

        We are so happy to hear that, Steph! And thank you the heads up on Step 3 of the recipe!

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Just wanted to say…. LOVE the new look of the blog! looks so fresh and pretty, too! 🙂 Yay! 🙂

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Love the new blog design! This recipe looks so flavorful- I love how your recipes are so approachable!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      Thank you, Hilary! If you give the stew a try, we hope you enjoy it!

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Delaney Pichotta

    A new dinner staple!! I did not expect to love this recipe so much but I’m glad I tried it out. Consider me adding this aji verde sauce onto everything from now on — super delish on some over easy eggs!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      So glad you enjoyed it, Delaney! Love the idea of adding the aji verde on eggs! YUM!

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Diana Murphy

    I made this yesterday –

    Hard to believe something so simple to make is so full of deliciousness.

    Will make this again for sure –

    The Aji Verde sauce is addictive.

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This was delicious! We could not get enough of the green sauce and it was so easy to make. For step 3, I assumed that I was supposed to add all the spices in addition to the cumin, but that wasn’t super clear from the recipe instructions. Loved this one and this blog!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      So glad you enjoyed the stew, Ellen! You are correct about Step 3. We’ll get the recipe updated!

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Rebecca Hanson Sanchez

    Question: For the Aji Verde sauce, do you use the whole cilantro or just the leaves? We finally have a cold & snowy day in So Cal so this will be perfect for tonight.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      We use mostly leaves, but we don’t mind if the stems sneak into the sauce too. We hope you love the stew!

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This was so delicious! I don’t normally buy plantains but when one showed up in my CSA box shortly after reading this recipe I figured it was a sign. My husband is a big meat-and-potatoes guy and usually teasingly asks “where’s the meat?” when I make a vegetarian dish. But he had two helpings of this AND ate the leftovers the next day. I think it’s the aji verde sauce. So. Good. My kids loved it too, even my pickiest eater. Thank you!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      It was totally meant to be! So glad the whole family enjoyed the recipe!

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo

    It’s such a great recipe. I will definitely try this.

    I saw some nice and easy recipes on Amazon store also which I think others should try too.

    You can check it out here :

    It’s for those who love keto recipes.

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I have never cooked with plantains before, happy I was feeling adventurous! I could see sweet potato as a good substitute if you can’t find plantains. I used spinach instead of kale which worked out great.
    I opted out of the queso fresco to keep the Aji Verde dairy free! Spicy goodness!

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo

    @Lindsey I noticed the paprika and chili powder were missing from the instructions too. Like Anchorman reading from the teleprompter, I need detailed direction.

    This was really an impressive stew and will be a new winter staple for us. It’s a new and improved chili and the aji sauce gives it the creaminess without overloading with cheese which is my fault with standard chili.

  15. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This was DELICIOUS! Reminded my husband and I of a meal we’d eaten in Ecuador years ago. I did tweak the aji verde a bit with extra lime, cilantro, etc (it was a tad Mayo-y for my taste). Would definitely make again.

  16. Pinch of Yum Logo
    Shelby Karamoko

    Totally going to make this! I’m wanting to add in meat. What would you recommend and at what step in the process should the meat be added?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo
      Krista @ Pinch of Yum

      If the meat is cooked, we’d add it in Step 4. If the meat is uncooked, we’d add it in Step 2 and adjust the cooking time in the following steps to ensure the meat is cooked through. Enjoy!

      1. Pinch of Yum Logo

        Hi! This looks really yummy, plantains are my favorite thing ever! My question is unrelated. Do you think that a blog needs to be wordpress to be successful?

        Please stay well! 🍎❤️