Yuca Hervida ~ Cuban Boiled Yuca

Yuca hervida is a Cuban side dish that can be enjoyed with any meal but especially at Noche Buena dinner, a Cuban Christmas Eve tradition. Fried, mashed, or boiled, yuca is soft and supple when cooked. For yuca hervida the starchy root vegetable is boiled to tender perfection and prepared with a generous garlicky mojo. Although red onions make for a more beautiful yuca hervida, my family makes yuca hervida with white onions. Despite its dull appearance with the white onion and garlic mojo, yuca hervida is full of flavor and is a classic Cuban comfort food.

Yuca is my favorite stubborn, sticky starch. Hard to cut and covered in skin, yuca takes a bit of time, love and prep to get ready for boiling. I typically purchase frozen yuca, which is already peeled and divided, and tastes just the same. Apparently the layer between the woody brown skin of the yuca root and the tube can be poisonous, I recently learned this so you should wash the yuca well and cook thoroughly. Boiled yuca is the starting point for many Cuban dishes and I have made this recipe many times, and I love the gummy, carby bite of boiled yuca.

Yuca Hervida ~ Cuban Boiled Yuca

  • 2 lbs yuca peeled cut in quarters (fresh or frozen)
  • Juice of 1 sour orange or lime
  • 1 thinly sliced onion onion
  • Salt
  • 7 cloves of garlic
  • ¾ cup olive oil
  • Crushed chicharron optional

Cover the yuca in water and add the the juice of half a lime and salt. Boil until the yucca is fork tender about 20 minutes. When the yuca is fork tender drain the water and let cool slightly. Remove the tough center fiber from the yuca chunks. It will easily come out of the yuca once it is cooked. The yuca will be very sticky.

While the yuca is cooking begin making the mojo. Mash the garlic cloves with a mortar and pestle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and a teaspoon of salt. Set aside.

Heat olive oil on low heat in a frying pan, add the onion and sauté slightly. The onions are best on the raw side, and really add a lot of emphasis to the flavor of the yuca hervida. Set the onions aside.

Add the mashed garlic cloves to the pan and stir. Add the juice of the rest of the sour orange juice to the pan. Sauté the yuca hervida for two to three more minutes. Gently add the yuca to the pan and toss in the garlic mojo 5 minutes making sure to evenly coat the yuca in the mojo.

*I have had yuca hervida with red onion instead of white onion and prefer the look although this is more traditional for the Dominican Republic.

**Crushed chicharron (or pork cracklins) garnish is great for added texture on the Cuban boiled yuca.

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Winter Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Winter-brussels-sprouts

Winter just began 3 weeks ago and after all the holidays are over I’m still celebrating winter veggies and their leafy, hardy deliciousness– starting with Brussels sprouts. Roasted, steamed, seared, and fried- Brussels sprouts can be sharp and savory or caramelized and sweet. I prefer my Brussels sprouts to be crisp and seared on the outside or roasted to perfection.

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There are so many combinations possible for these tiny cruciferous cabbage heads. I’ve braised them in balsamic and topped with creamy goat cheese, roasted them and added crispy bacon, or shaved them for a winter slaw. Ever since I had Trader Joe’s Blue Cheese and Pecan Spread (don’t worry Publix you’re still #1 in my book), I have wanted to replicate some of those flavors with roasted Brussels sprouts.

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Oven-roasted Brussels sprouts with red onions are tossed in lemon and maple syrup and topped with blue cheese and toasted pecans. You can add guanciale or pancetta as great alternatives to bacon (or just use bacon) if you like or dried cranberries for a sweeter approach. I served the roasted Brussels sprouts with Blue Cheese and Pecans with maple rosemary pork tenderloin.

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Great-for-hoildays-or-cold-winters

Winter Roasted Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • ½ large red onion sliced
  • ½ cup toasted pecan halves and pieces
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Add crisp pancetta, guanciale, bacon, dried cranberries, or orange segments (optional

Salt a pot of water and bring it to a boil. Once boiling blanch the Brussels sprouts for 3 minutes or so. Rinse under cool water or place in an ice bath to stop them from cooking. Preheat the oven to 400F. Trim and halve the Brussels sprouts. Slice the onion and toss with the olive oil, maple syrup, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste. Allow the sprouts and onions to sit marinating for 15-30 minutes. Drain the excess marinade and save for drizzling later.

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Roast the Brussels sprouts and red onions until golden and caramelized about 25-30 minutes. Serve the roasted Brussels sprouts warm topped with the toasted pecans and crumbled blue cheese (or any other additions you choose). Squeeze a little fresh lemon on top to garnish the roasted brussels sprouts and add some of the marinade on top.

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Mise-for-sprouts

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Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

baked-butternut-squash-mac-and-cheese

Butternut squash mac and cheese topped with golden crunchy panko bread crumbs and rich aromatic rosemary makes for a creamy, nutty, and healthy(ier) Thanksgiving side- or just a nice fall dish. One that makes you feel cozy and comfy as nights become cooler and forgotten warm winter coats are reluctantly remembered. Since I was a kid I have been making the macaroni and cheese recipe from Betty Crocker’s Cook Book for Boys and Girls. I have mentioned this tattered and loved cookbook before, whose recipes I still use in modified extent.

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For the butternut squash mac and cheese I replaced the macaroni for roasted butternut squash, added a bit of depth with spices and rosemary, and crunch with the toasted panko bread crumbs. The butternut squash was perfectly tender and well-coated in the sharp cheddar cheese sauce. I like to use a shallow dish to maximize surface area for lots of crisp rosemary panko. Roasted butternut squash mac and cheese is fitting for a feast like Thanksgiving or if you’re feeling fancy, just a nice Tuesday night dinner.

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Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese

  • 2 lb butternut squash peeled, cored, and diced
  • 2 tsp melted butter or ghee
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 small diced white onion
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp dried ground mustard
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups milk (I used 2%)
  • 12 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese, 2 oz set aside for topping
  • 1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 sprig rosemary chopped

Preheat the oven to 400F. Peel the butternut squash, cut it in half, and core out the seeds. Dice the squash into nice little cubes for your butternut squash mac and cheese. Toss the diced butternut squash with the butter or ghee and sea salt. Roast the butternut squash for about 20 minutes or until almost done through. I opened the oven at 10 minutes and stirred the squash so it wouldn’t stick to the cast iron skillet. I like to use the skillet for aesthetics, but this would be easily done in a glass pyrex dish 9×13 would probably work best.

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While the squash is roasting make the cheddar cheese sauce starting with the roux. I didn’t get to take great pictures of this step because my kitchen lighting is dismal. Melt the butter on medium to low heat and cook the onion until soft and tender. Add the flour and stir well, add the spices and allow the roux base to toast slightly for 2-3 minutes. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly. Stir in the zebra white and yellow shredded cheddar and cook over low heat until sauce is thickened. Grate the nutmeg into the sauce and stir.

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Add the butternut squash to the cheese sauce and gently stir. You want to keep the squash in neat little cubes. Add the butternut squash and cheese back into the cast iron skillet (or pyrex you roasted the squash in). I hate doing dishes so I try to use as few as possible! Mix the panko bread crumbs, rosemary, and the extra side of cheddar cheese. Top the butternut squash with the bread crumb mixture and bake for an extra 10 minutes until nice and golden brown on top. Butternut squash macaroni and cheese is a great Thanksgiving side dish.

delicious-butternut-squash-mac-and-cheese

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