Yuca Frita with Cilantro Garlic Sauce Recipe


Crispy yuca frita is another Cuban favorite that is great fried or boiled and served with garlic. The boiled yuca is called yuca hervida, and I’ll make that another time. This time I made yuca frita. Delicious crispy fried yuca frita with a tangy lime cilantro garlic dipping sauce. This is the perfect side item or afternoon snack. Yuca have a distinct flavor and are wonderfully crispy on the outside, and creamy soft on the inside. Yuca frita are pretty much Cuban french fries.

Cilantro-Garlic-Sauce Finished-sauce

Any Miami native has had delicious varieties of cilantro garlic sauce, but everyone knows Pollo Tropical‘s is the best. Cilantro garlic dipping sauce is the perfect condiment for this starchy root vegetable.  I love yuca in every which way, Versailles also makes yuca encrusted picadillo that looks like a croqueta, drizzled with cilantro garlic sauce. It. Is. Amazing. I’m telling you, do not be intimidated by yuca’s rough bark exterior, you can always take a short cut and buy the frozen yuca in your local supermarket.


Crispy Yuca Frita

1 large Yuca (the one pictured served yielded 22 pieces enough to feed 4-5)
Oil for frying (I used vegetable oil)
Sea salt and lime for garnish

Cilantro Garlic Sauce**********

***********I now use a new recipe. This is the original recipe I posted, but I have now perfected the recipe after trial and error the link is here.

1 container Fage Greek Yogurt
4 roasted garlic cloves
1 bunch cilantro
1 tbsp green Tabasco
3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of 1 lime (or more to taste)
½ tsp onion powder
½ tsp cayenne
Salt to taste

Begin to prep the yuca and cilantro garlic sauce. First, set a large pot of salted water to boil. Peel the outside of the yucca well with a peeler, clean thoroughly and pat dry. Cut the yuca into 2 inch by ½ inch thick rectangles. When the water is boiling add the yuca and boil for 20 minutes or until fork tender. Take the yuca out and lightly dry. Now is your opportunity to remove the fibrous center, gently remove this with a fork and discard. Cut the thick pieces in quarters.

Unpeeled-Yuca Chop-Yuca Stacked-Yuca

Heat 2 inches of canola oil in a pan to fry the yuca. The yuca took surprisingly long to get nice and crispy, but it is worth the wait. In my opinion the crispier the better! Squeeze a lime wedge over the yuca and sprinkle with sea salt. I plated both dishes with five yuca frita.  If you are cooking for more people then cook the yuca in batches and place in the oven to keep hot and crispy.


Now make the cilantro garlic sauce. Add the roughly torn cilantro, lime juice, garlic, onion powder, sugar, olive oil, cayenne, salt and pepper, and Greek yogurt to the Cuisinart food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.


Roasted Beets + Salad

    Dressed-Beets   Heirloom-Beet-Salad

Roasted heirloom beets with thyme and honey are a great side dish, salad topping, or simple snack! I love beets- so it’s not unusual for me to snack on them from time to time right out of the jar like pickles (my favorite are these baby whole pickled beets). I used to be creeped out by beets as a kid. They seemed like that ‘untouchable’ item in the school salad bar whose purple origins I found questionable. I don’t remember when I finally let go of my beet stigma, but I am glad I did. These healthy roots are loaded with vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants AND anti-inflammatory powers. They also cleanse the body. Beets are wonderfully earthy, soft and buttery in texture, and are best when pickled or roasted.

Beets taste sweet with honey and lavender, but I wasn’t going to bust a mission to get some lavender since my little plant recently died. I always see beets getting prepped at work, so I decided to cook my own fresh beets right at home!  I love the bright golden beets and the way they complement their more familiar dark purple variety.

     Clean-Beets    Thyme-Beets

I cleaned the beets and dried them well. Heated up the oven to 350F and rubbed the beets with olive oil and seasoned generously with salt, pepper, and thyme. My entire apartment smelled like an earthy cave or hobbit house while they were roasting. After around 45 minutes or so I took the beets out of the oven and let them cool on the stovetop. The golden beets cooked faster than the dark purple ones; you can test for doneness by piercing with a knife- if it goes in like butter they’re ready.


After cooling on the counter for maybe 30 minutes I put on some gloves and easily peeled away the skin to reveal soft, bright beets. Gloves are suggested as the first purple one I began to handle turned my fingers bright magenta. I sliced the beets thinly and laid them in a spiral. I happened to have some free time so I bothered to do this, and it looked very pretty, but you can certainly cut them in thick chunks and toss the ingredients together instead I drizzled the roasted heirloom beets with mustard honey vinaigrette before serving. These can also be added to an entrée salad for a nice pop of color and sweetness. While delicious from the jar, there is nothing like homemade roasted beets to brighten up your plate and palate.

 Peeled-Beets  All-peeled-beets

 Beets; Golden and Purple

Olive Oil
1 tablespoon thyme
Salt and Pepper


2 tablespoons olive oil
Small splash red wine vinegar (I added leftover diced red onions marinated in red wine vinegar)
1 tablespoon honey
1 tsp Gulden’s Brown Mustard
1 tablespoon orange juice
1 garlic clove grated
Lemon Juice

Garnish with:

Shaved Carrot Curls (Approx 1 Medium Carrot)
Salted Chopped Pistachios
Goat Cheese

Preheat oven to 350. Scrub the beets clean, remove greens (you can eat these too if you like), and dry well. Get a pan with parchment paper ready and rub olive oil on clean beets and place on sheet. Sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and thyme. If you put honey on the beets in the oven it will burn and smoke. Roast for 45 minutes or until tender. Allow the roasted beets to cool. Put on gloves and gently peel away their skins.


From this point you can serve the roasted beets as a side dish or on a salad, or the beets can also be pickled. Pickled beets work great as a twist to a classic wedge salad, or maybe with mixed greens and sliced seared ahi tuna. I decided to make a roasted heirloom beet salad. Whisk the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over the beets. Shave carrot curls in the center, sprinkle with roughly chopped pistachios and crumbled goat cheese. Enjoy!

Perfect Couscous Salad

Couscous Salad

Couscous salad is a colorful versatile side dish that is easy to prepare and perfect to make-ahead. Cooking can be daunting for many, so it’s nice to have some killer recipes in your arsenal to bust out when the time is right. Roasted chicken goes great with this side dish and that is exactly what I was preparing for a small family gathering of 8 people! Entertaining can get expensive very quickly. So it is wise to prepare simple classic dishes that have a lot of wow factor but go easier on the wallet. I wanted to make something relatively healthy for everyone, so I opted for lemon-herb marinated chicken thighs and legs with couscous salad, cold cucumber salad, and pull-apart garlicky party bread. The dinner was fantastic and pretty easy to pull together. Most of the work was in prepping the veggies, which can always be done in advance. Fear not eager home cook- I shall post on how to make the lemon-herb marinade, cold cucumber salad, and the pull-apart bread!

                Uncooked TabboulehCouscous Mix with Raisins

For the couscous salad I prepare a box of whole wheat tabbouleh from Near East by boiling one cup of water, mixing it with the tabbouleh, and letting it sit in a sealed glass Pyrex for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. While this is sitting in the fridge I prepare a box of Near East Original Plain Couscous using 1 cup orange juice, I use Florida’s Natural OJ with ‘Most Pulp’, and 1 cup of water. You can substitute chicken stock for either of these proportions- if I had chicken stock I would have used it in place of water for more flavor. I laid the hot couscous out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper to chill on the kitchen table (or if you have space in your refrigerator, pop it in to cool off). Once at room temperature or chilled begin to add the salad additions.

                          Scallions trimmed                 Scallions: Natural Ombre

This makes A LOT of couscous and will easily serve 8-10. Feel free to modify this recipe to your liking. I like to add the first 5 ingredients under ‘salad additions’ to the couscous mix and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours to blend in flavor. Within 30 minutes of serving the salad I add the tomatoes, mint, and almonds and then dress the salad. I find that if added early the mint looks too bruised, the almonds lose their crunch, and the tomatoes get too soft.

     Added Chopped Kale          Toasted Almonds

     Add Chopped Tomatoes          Suggested Meal

Couscous Salad:

For couscous mix:

 1 box Near East Original Couscous

1 box Near East Taboule

1 cup orange juice

2 cups water, divided (or chicken stock)

1 tsp salt

1 tsp olive oil

Salad additions:

 2-3 cups chopped kale (smaller pieces preferred)

1 cup Sun-Maid Golden Raisins

¾ cup thinly sliced scallions (or more if you like)

½ cup thinly sliced radishes (optional)

½ cup finely chopped parsley

1 cup toasted almonds

1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half

20 torn mint leaves

Before serving:

 Dress with the juice of 2 lemons

Sea salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste

½- ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Serves 8-10 

Boil one cup of water and add to the tabbouleh in a sealed container. Set in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. Make the couscous according to the box, replacing the 2 cups water for either orange juice or chicken stock. Let the couscous come to room temperature. Mix with the prepared tabbouleh.

Toast your almonds at 350F for 8-10 minutes. Let the almonds cool.

Chop scallions, kale, radishes, and parsley. Add to the couscous mix with the golden raisins. Let sit for several hours in an air-tight container in the fridge so the flavors can combine. Before serving add the mint leaves, tomatoes, and almonds. Dress the salad and enjoy!