Caribbean-Style Yuca Salad with Crispy Bacon, Sweet Onion and Celery

by feastonthecheap on February 14, 2012

Mary Anne here. I first sampled Yuca – aka Cassava – while visiting St. Lucia this past December. Michael and I took a tour of the Pitons, visiting the magnificent and explosive botanical gardens…explosive thanks to the neighboring active volcano. Never have I seen flora and fauna as lush and vibrant as the native flowers found on this tiny Caribbean island, an island that yields much of the of the mahogany that’s crafted into fine furnishings.

After a long morning of trekking through the tropical forests and inhaling the sulfured air of the boiling, roiling volcano, we were treated to a buffet luncheon held in a local restaurant that was pitched precariously on the edge of the mountain. While the view was breathtaking, what captured my fancy was a large tray of what appeared to be a simple chicken salad tossed with peas, corn, and mayonnaise. As my fork pierced the first piece, I knew this was no side of poultry. The flesh was firm yet tender, and as I tasted this mystery dish, I was surprised and delighted by the creamy texture and its subtle sweetness. When I brazenly dove in for a heaping second portion, I asked the server what made this so instantly addictive. With a shrug and a toss of her long, beaded braids, she enlightened me: Yuca is just another everyday culinary option!

I’ve been looking for this brown-skinned tuber ever since and was ecstatic when it appeared in the produce section of my local Stop and Shop last week. I did a bit of research and learned that Yuca was first cultivated in Brazil, but now is the largest crop in Nigeria as well as other African countries. It cannot be eaten raw, since it contains trace amounts of cyanide that require cooking away, but you can treat it like an ordinary Idaho ‘tater: peel it, cut it into chunks; store the uncooked Yuca in a bowl of water overnight in the fridge if making it in steps. I created my salad using the usual cast of characters conjuring up a Caribbean-style version of the good old American Potato Salad, but you can dress it with whatever catches your fancy.

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Yucca Salad
Serves 10

Ingredients:
2 ½ lbs. Yuca – $1.58
1 Teaspoon white wine vinegar – stock
1 cup celery, diced – $2.09
1 cup Vidalia onion, diced – $0.95
3 hard-boiled eggs, diced – stock
½ cup cilantro, finely chopped – $0.99
8 strips turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled – $1.99
½ cup light mayonnaise – stock
½ cup light sour cream – $1.45
Grand Total Assuming a Well-Stocked Pantry: $9.05
Total Per Serving: $0.90

Directions:
1. Trim the ends of the yucca. Using a vegetable peeler or paring knife, peel off the waxy brown skin. Rinse off the paring knife or peeler, and lightly peel the flesh of the yucca, removing the red streaks. The flesh should be white with perhaps a slight yellow cast.

2. Cut the yucca in half lengthwise, and remove the fibrous vein running through the center. Dice the yucca into ½ – inch chunks.

3. Place the yucca cubes in a large pot and add enough water to cover. Add the vinegar and some salt. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce the heat. Simmer for about 25 to 30 minutes until the yucca is fork tender.

4. Drain in a colander and allow to cool for about 10 or 15 minutes.

5. Transfer the yucca to a large serving bowl. Add the celery, onion, eggs, cilantro and crumbled bacon.

6. Whisk together the mayonnaise and sour cream. Fold into the yucca salad. Correct seasonings and serve either chilled or at room temperature.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray February 14, 2012 at 10:10 am

This is beautiful and sounds delicious!

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Steve @ the black peppercorn February 14, 2012 at 12:23 pm

I love yuca/cassava – It is such a staple in so many countries. You can do so much with it also. This looks quite delicious!

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Steve @ HPD February 14, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Added this to this week’s meal planner. Cheers!

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feastonthecheap February 14, 2012 at 9:41 pm

Hope you love it as much as we do!

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Rhonda February 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm

I have never had Yucca. I see it occasionally in the store, but what to do with it? If I see it again I’ll be sure to pick some up.

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DessertForTwo February 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I first tasted yuca in Costa Rica and fell in love! If I remember correctly, there’s a difference between yuca and yucca. Yuca (yoo-kuh) is what you have here: slightly sticky starchy potato-like gift from God. Yucca (yuck-uh) is the fruit of a certain type of palm and is delicious when fried! We had yucca fries instead of french fries!

Happy Valentine’s Day :)

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feastonthecheap February 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Yes, that’s exactly right! Thank you for the distinction, it can be totally confusing. This is Yuca not Yucca. But frankly, both are delish!

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Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe February 15, 2012 at 1:22 am

I’m intrigued! I’ve never tried yuca, but my curiosity might very well lead me down that road!

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Sandra@foodieaffair.com February 15, 2012 at 12:14 pm

I need to expand my palate and try yuca. I like eggs and turkey bacon, so I’m sure this dish is as yummy as it looks!

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Kiran @ KiranTarun.com February 15, 2012 at 12:31 pm

This looks like a great salad, filled with yummy ingredients — i’ve never tried yuca before, but now I am intrigued :)

BTW, thanks for commenting on my blog!

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Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking February 15, 2012 at 12:56 pm

This salad seems right up my alley! What lovely flavors you used and photos you take! You ladies have a beautiful blog and I’m so glad to have found it.

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Julie M. February 15, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Cyanide? I had no idea! I don’t think I’ve ever tried yucca before, it looks pretty darned tasty.

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Nina Gaskell May 1, 2012 at 6:51 pm

I love your version of cooking with cassava – it makes a change from every day ordinary salad!! I attempted using cassava in the form of a casserole – lovely.

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