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As I write my first column for 2014, I’m thinking about what I’d like to stress for this year. I would like my readers to become healthier without sacrificing taste and the overall enjoyment of recipes. Too often healthy is equated with tasteless, but my view is that we should keep it simple, buy local, eat fresh and flavour with local herbs and spices. With this in mind, today the spotlight is on one of my favourites, the ground provision cassava. Cassava or yuca as it’s called in the Spanish Caribbean, is not only versatile and delicious, it’s nutritious as well being high in fibre and minerals. It’s always good when paired with fish and even salted fish, addictive when cooked up with onions, peppers and simply irresistible when used in any of the recipes I’ve given. When buying cassava, always buy freshly harvested cassava. It should be lily white when it’s cut through. Take it home, peel it and freeze it right away if you’re not going to cook it the same day. Cassava has a very short shelf life after harvesting.
1 lb uncooked cassava, peeled, deveined and cut into small pieces
3 cloves garlic
3 tbsps chopped onion
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/2 hot pepper
1 tbsps cornstarch
1/2 tsp baking powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process to a fine paste.
Season with salt and black pepper to taste.
Drop by teaspoonfuls into hot oil and fry until puffed and golden.
• Makes about 15 fritters.
CHILI PINEAPPLE DIP
1 cup low fat mayonnaise
2 tbsps fresh lime juice
1/2 cup chopped fresh pineapple
1 tsp chili powder
2 cloves garlic minced
Salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or chadon beni.
Combine all of the above ingredients, sprinkle with shadow beni or cilantro and serve with fritters.
CREAMED CASSAVA WITH LEMON PARSLEY GREMOLATA
2 lbs cassava
1/2 cup milk
2 tbsps butter
For the Gremolata
1 tsp lemon zest, finely grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
Boil cassava in lots of water for about 20 to 30 minutes, until very soft, drain and remove inner core.
Heat milk with butter. Add to drained cassava and crush cassava until creamy.
Add gremolata and stir.
• Serves 4 to 6
GRILLED CASSAVA WITH LIME GARLIC SAUCE
2 lbs cassava, boiled and drained
1 tbsps chopped garlic
1/3 cup olive oil or vegetable oil
2 tbsps lime juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tbsps chopped chadon beni
Remove inner vein from cassava cut into two-inch lengths and place in a shallow baking dish.
Heat oil in a small sauce pan, add garlic and lime, add salt and pepper. Sauté for a few minutes more, do not brown garlic.
Add chadon beni, stir and pour mixture onto cassava, covering all the cassava with the pieces.
Preheat broiler and place cassava under broiler.
Broil until hot and edges are browned.
• Serves 4 to 6