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New Ingredient: Yucca

January 31, 2011

I’m at my first Bikram Yoga class with Jess right now — actually, my first yoga class ever! — so while we’re sweating it out, enjoy this filling and delicious dinner as part of my New Ingredient Challenge.

This week’s new ingredient scared me a little bit. What is this bark-covered thing?!

Yucca! (YOU-ca? YUCK-a? It seems like people are divided.)

Yucca (also known as manioc or cassava), is a white, starchy tropical vegetable that widely grown and consumed in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Caribbean. In many countries, yucca is a dietary staple usually eaten boiled, steamed, and in flour form as thickeners or additional ingredients for noodles, cakes, and pastries. (source)

When faced with an unknown root vegetable, there’s one no-fail way to cook it: fries!

First, though, the yucca needed to be peeled and chopped. After several minutes of sawing away, I was only halfway through the vegetable’s tough skin.

A quick Google search revealed that 2 minutes in the microwave softens the yucca and makes it easier to cut and peel.

2 minutes and a few chops later… success!

I used a vegetable peeler to remove the tough exterior, which slid off easily after the first couple of swipes. Underneath, the flesh looks potato-like.

I chopped the yucca into fry shapes and tossed it with olive oil, salt and pepper on a baking sheet, which went into a 375* oven for 25 minutes.

Yucca yum! The fries honestly tasted like potato fries, albeit a little chewier. Maybe they needed to cook a few more minutes?

The yucca fries accompanied a veggie burger that I’ll honestly call the best veggie burger ever: Angela’s In A Jiffy Curry Chickpea Burgers.

At the grocery store yesterday, I stood in front of the freezer section for several minutes while contemplating with a major veggie burger craving. I ended up going home empty-handed but the craving stayed and I remembered having seen this recipe earlier.

The recipe made 8 burgers so after eating one for dinner and packing one for lunch, the other 6 went into the freezer where they are just as easy and convenient to heat up as Boca burgers but way healthier and tastier: just chickpeas, carrots, oats, olive oil and spices.

Stop, drop and make these burgers!

The yucca fries were good but I don’t know if yucca will replace sweet potato as my root vegetable of choice. Ketchup makes everything better, though. 😉

Lesson learned: just because a vegetable looks intimidating, that doesn’t mean it’s not delicious and easy to cook with.

Have you tried yucca? How did you cook it?

11 Comments leave one →
  1. January 31, 2011 8:02 pm

    I hope you enjoyed yoga 🙂 I’ve never tried bikram but I love the other hot classes I have done.

    I’ve never tried a yucca but I’m on board for any kind of fries so I’ll have to try this at some point!

  2. February 1, 2011 1:10 am

    I’m from Brazil, and I LOVE yucca!
    Specially cooked yucca 🙂

    • February 1, 2011 6:59 am

      How do you cook it? I’d love to try the Brazilian way! 🙂

  3. February 1, 2011 7:42 am

    I am so intimidated by that food–good for you!

  4. February 1, 2011 10:10 am

    Erin I love yucca and I am going to try those chickpea burgers!

    So what will be your special meal for Groundhog Day?


    • February 1, 2011 11:33 am

      Not sure about Groundhog Day — have any suggestions? Maybe I can make a chickpea burger in the shape of a groundhog peeking out of his hole…

  5. February 1, 2011 10:21 am

    I have never even heard of Yucca but that sounds very interesting! I will have to try it sometime 🙂

    • February 1, 2011 11:33 am

      In my grocery store, it’s in the ‘specialty’ produce section.


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