It was molecular gastronomy chef Heston Blumenthal who, using molecular profiling, first discovered that banana paired well with parsley. This scientific method of food pairing is based on the principal that foods combine well with one another when they have similar molecular compounds in common. (go to “Food Pairing in Molecular Gastronomy”)
When creating this recipe, I first tried combining the parsley dust with caramelized bananas but the flavor of the bananas was overpowering the parsley. I finally decided to keep it simple and use fresh bananas with a touch of whipped cream to enhance the excellent flavor pairing of banana and parsley. The parsley dust and dried parsley leaves are based on recipes from Grant Achatz and Heston Blumenthal respectively.
Ingredients (4 servings)
- 4 large bananas
- 200 ml (~7 oz) heavy cream
- 1 tbsp of sugar
- 4 almond thins, wafer cookies or tuiles
- 4 tbsp caramel or “dulce de leche”
- 50 g (1.8 oz) parlsey leaves
- 1000 g (35 oz) water
- 35 g (1.2 oz) Kosher salt
Dried Parsley Leaves
- 12 leaves flat-leaf parsley (3 per serving)
- Walnut or Peanut/groundnut oil
Parsley Dust Preparation
1- Pick parsley leaves and remove the stems.
2- Boil water and salt.
3- Prepare bowl with ice water.
4- Blanch parsley leaves for 1 s in boiling water. Immerse immediately in ice water for a few seconds. Dry them with paper towel.
5- Dry the parsley leaves in a dehydrator (130 °F for 12 hours) or oven. If using an oven, set it to the minimum temperature possible and dry the parsley for about 2 hours leaving the oven door open about 5 cm (2 inches). Time may vary depending on your oven.
6- Once the parsley leaves are dry (they should crack easily with your fingers), use a spice or coffee grinder to convert them to dust.
7- Pass the dust through a fine sieve to remove any large particles and store it in a sealed container in a dry place.
Dried Parsley Leaves Preparation
1- Select the most attractive and large parsley leaves of about the same size. Keep 1 cm (2/5 in) of the stalk.
2- Wrap clingfilm around a plate making a drum-like surface.
3- Brush the clingfilm with walnut or peanut oil.
4- Place the parsley leaves upside down on top of the clingfilm and slightly press them with your fingers so they are completely flat.
5- Microwave them for 2 minutes on full power.
6- Carefully lift one leaf with a spatula and verify that it is crispy. If not, microwave for another 10 seconds and check again.
7- Remove any excess of oil by placing the parsley leaves between paper towels on a flat surface.
8- Store them in a sealed container in a dry place until plating.
Assemble and Serve
1- Whip the heavy cream with 1 tbsp of sugar until you get stiff peaks. The bananas are sweet so I prefer if the whipped cream is not too sweet. Adjust sugar to taste before whipping and reserve in the fridge.
2- From the center of each banana, cut two pieces of 5 cm (2 in) long (this should be about double the width of a large banana, adjust if necessary). Cut these pieces longwise in half.
3- Place two halves next to each other on the plate with the flat side facing up.
4- Using a spatula, spread a layer of whipped cream of about 1 cm (2/5 of an inch) over the flat sides of the bananas.
5- Place the other two banana halves on top of the cream layer, flat side facing up and orienting them 90 degrees relative to the first two halves.
6- Spread another layer of cream on top.
7- Using a sieve, sprinkle the parsley dust until you cover the cream layer. To keep the plate clean, you can place some paper strips around the bananas while you sprinkle the parsley dust.
8- We are now going to cut the banana “pedestals” for the dried parsley leaves. From the remaining parts of each banana, cut two pieces of 2 cm (3/4 in) long and then cut them again in two in diagonal from the side, not the flat ends. Each piece will be used as a pedestal for the dried parsley leaves.
9- To create the caramel swoosh across the plate, grab a tablespoon of caramel and start pouring it where you want the thick end to be on the plate. Once about half of the tablespoon has been poured, quickly move the spoon in a straight line across the plate to form the swoosh. If this is your first time doing this, practice a few times on an empty plate until you get it right.
10- Place 3 banana “pedestals” on the swoosh separated by 2 or 3 cm (1 in). The flat and round side of the “pedestal” should face down.
11- Carefully place a dried parsley leaf on each banana “pedestal”.
12- Place the almond thin, wafer cookie or tuile on the banana and cream tower.