Root vegetables are a commonly neglected bunch, but have recently taken some spotlight with increased emergence of international cuisine. Each root has its own unique taste and nutritional value, so be daring and expand your taste buds! This month's feature includes: Cassava (yucca root), Jicama, Sunchoke, Taro root, and Water chestnut.
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.
Yucca root has made a home growing in Florida since the late 1800s. Cassava is a bushy perennial that can grow as tall as 8 feet. The white interior of yucca is firmer than potatoes and has high starch content. Fresh yucca has thick, dark brown skin that resembles a tree's bark. Fresh yucca is available year round. Look for firm blemish free tubers. Store whole yucca as you would potatoes, in a cool, dark, dry place for up to one week. Peeled yucca covered with water and refrigerated or wrapped tightly and frozen for several months.
Yucca can easily be substituted for potatoes in soups and stews and it contains a high amount of vitamin C and carbohydrates. It is also a good source of dietary fiber and contains approximately 120 calories per 1 cup serving.