Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Not Quite Mashed Potatoes

While its not exactly cold out yet, no one is calling it warm either.

Did the weather get the message about labor day or what? Last weekend, it was sunny and everyone was wearing shorts and sundresses and sunglasses, and on Tuesday, like a light switch, the coats, pants, umbrellas, and ties came out.

Along with a wardrobe switcheroo, it's also time for me to change up my diet. Gone are the days of cold food morning, noon, and night.

It's way too early to be talking about Thanksgiving but in my world, turkey is what they serve next to the mashed potatoes. Not the other way around.

And since, it's way too early to be talking pilgrims and cranberry sauce, I thought why not mash up something else.

Enter the yuca, also known as cassava or manioc. It's a starchy root vegetable, similar to a potato that is grown in tropical and subtropical regions. When cooked, it's reminiscent of mashed potatoes with a sweeter, starchier, and some say slightly more bitter essence. No matter how you describe it's taste, few leave out delicious in their descriptions.

And I decided to use up a little bit of the summer squash I had laying around the apartment in my recipe too.

Yuca and Summer Squash Smashed

1 Yuca root, skin removed and chopped up (see note below)
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup of onions, finely chopped
1 yellow squash, chopped into quarter inch pieces
Sea Salt to Taste
1/4-1/2 cupped of finely chopped dill
2 tbs of olive oil

Cut up the yuca root into small pieces. To shorten the cooking time, I chopped my yuca into 1/2 inch square pieces. Yuca roots are very tough, so I suggest using your sharpest knife and cutting the yuca into several large chunks, cutting the skin off the large sections, and then chopping the sections up into pieces.

Once yuca is chopped up, cover with water about one inch about the yuca, add a dash of sea salt and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat slightly and watch until cooked. My 1/2 pieces only too about 8 minutes. Keep checking the pan by sticking a fork into the pieces, it should be soft and mashable - the same as if making mashed potatoes.

While the yuca is cooking, saute the onions and garlic in one tablespoon of the olive oil. Once caramelized, remove from the heat and set aside. (Make sure to keep garlic and onion pieces similar sized or you will end up with slightly over browned garlic like I did.)

When the yuca is done, drain the water and set aside.

In the same pan, bring 2-3 cups of water to a boil. Add the squash and cook until tender. Then remove from heat and drain.

In the same pan, combine the sauteed garlic and onions, yuca, squash and olive oil and mash the ingredients together. You can do this over heat but be careful as you do not want to cook anything much more.

Once well combined, add the dill and sea salt to taste. Serve and enjoy.

(Since I'm a sucker for spice, I also added 1 chopped jalapeno to my recipe. You could also mix this up and exchange the dill for parsley or cilantro, butter instead of olive oil, zucchini instead of yellow squash.)

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