Don’t let the “tough” exterior scare you. Yucca (Cassava) root is one delicious plant starch to add to your diet. When prepared properly, you can make the best baked , crispy, creamy, yucca (cassava) fries!
I may be just a little too overly excited about this post 😛 You should be excited too; why else would you be reading? I usually introduce a new food to you and then give you some recipes, but this time, I did it reversed. When I posted my Cassava Crusted Chicken last week, it sparked a lot of conversation about exactly “cassava” was. To clear things up right off the bat, cassava and yucca (yuca <— it’s spelled with 2 c’s, not one!) are the same thing, just different names depending on the region. And tapioca is the extracted starch from the yucca root.
Now, the next thing is to not be sacred when you see this root in the produce section of the store. It is big, long, and brown. The outside bark is super hard and looks like the outside of a tree (with a protective wax coating), but you’ll be peeling that off! I usually pick up 2-3 yucca roots every week and when I go to check out my groceries, the cashiers always ask me…”What is this???”. But obviously I must not be the only one buying the yucca as they keep stocking it! I also like that they’re right next to the plantains so I can grab both of my favorite non-potato starches at once 😉
So, yucca is native to Brazil, but cultivated in arid regions of North America (deserts!), Central and South American, as well as the Caribbean. It’s a very high starch, fibrous, root, but also super delicate and can bruise or go bad very easily. Sometimes they’re super long, sometimes super thick, sometimes super thin. I never know what to expect at the store. If they’re too big for me, I break them off to the size I want! The inside is white and when cooked and baked (as I’ll show you below), becomes a bit tanner, has a sweet nutty taste, crisp outside, but super soft “chewy” creamy inside!
Now, if you’re looking for a low calorie low-carb grain-free option, this is not for you. Yucca has twice the calories of a potato, with 160 calories and 38g of carbohydrates per 100g of yucca root. However, it’s high in Vitamin C, B vitamins, minerals (like copper and iron), and potassium. It’s a tuber so it’s also (obviously) gluten-free and paleo. Yucca is a resistant starch so it keeps you full and is digested slowly. Yucca makes a great option for carbing up and refueling (or pre-fueling) for an intense workout too!
Yucca can simply be boiled and then mashed for making tortillas and breads, like plantains. It can also be dried and made into the famous cassava flour. The flour is actually a pretty close 1-to-1 replacement of wheat flour! Baking with it is super easy, being a godsend to gluten/grain-free and paleo people (I have recipes to share soon!). It may just be me, but I love the smell of cassava flour! It can also be fried and made into crunchy chips as a killer alternative to potato chips (i.e. my recipe). Grilled, fried, mashed, baked, steamed, really any way you cook it up will be good, but baked fries…the best!
Here’s the kicker. If you don’t cook it properly, you could kill yourself. It should never ever be eaten raw (that would be hard to do anyway!). This is why, “Cassava should never be eaten raw as the root composes small quantities of cyanogenic glycosides, especiallyhydroxycyanic acid. Cyanide compounds interfere with cellular metabolism by inhibiting the cytochrome-oxidase enzyme inside the human body. Peeling followed by cooking ensures them safe for consumption by removing these compounds.” (source). It’s okay though, I’ll show you how to not die of cyanide poisoning!
Simple, peel the tough brown bark off the yucca root with a vegetable peeler, cut it into fries with a sharp knife (it is tough!). Boil in a pot of water (this is key), and bake! The boiling is not only essential for getting rid of the toxins, but it also leads to the greatest baked fries you will ever have the pleasure of dipping into a bowl of ketchup! I don’t even season my fries! You don’t need to (you can, but it is not necessary in the least!) The sweet nutty flavor is so spectacular on its own. Dipped in some ketchup and I am SUCH a happy yucca-loving girl!
Baked Yucca (Cassava) Fries
- 1 Large Yucca Root
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Bring 2-3 cups of water to a boil on the stove, while you peel the outside brown bark off the yucca root.
- Next, chop off the top "stem" and bottom tip of the yucca root, then into thick cut fries. Any shape will do, at any thickness you prefer.
- Place the yucca fries into the boiling water and cover. Boil for about 8-10 minutes until fork tender. The longer you boil them, the softer and creamier they are after you bake them.
- Drain the yucca root and place the boiled fries on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Bake in the oven for 10 minutes, flip, and bake another 5-10 minutes.
So if you prepare your fresh yucca root this way, you won’t die…promise 😉 Although, I am the girl who eats “potentially” dangerous foods without a second thought (i.e. mango skins, sprouted beans, etc.) In all seriousness though, these baked yucca (cassava) fries will change you life. If I were to rank the 3 starch-based baked fries, it would be #3 potato, #2 plantain, and #1 yucca! That may surprise you since potatoes are my love child, but I’m telling you, baked yucca fries are love at first bite! (And please…dip them in ketchup! So BEYOND good!)
So tell me:
+ Have you ever had fresh yucca root?
+ Favorite “fry”? Yucca…hands down!Strength and Sunshine Twitter: @RebeccaGF666 Instagram: rebeccagf666 Pinterest: RebeccaGF666 Bloglovin’: Strength and Sunshine Google+: Rebecca Pytell