First of all, I have to admit that I found this week’s assignment quite challenging – barely found the time to cook three times, and cooking new recipes was daunting to say the least.
I approached this assignment by going to Cub’s and staring at their produce aisle in search for something that doesn’t sound familiar. My search soon narrowed to three vegetables (?): yucca, chayote squash and tomatillos. Smartphone in hand, I searched for recipes with each as keyword (thank God for Google!), and seeing that tomatillos go pretty much only in green salsa – and being much too hungry to be content with that for my dinner – I decided on the spot to pick the first two as my go-to vegetables (or whatever the heck they are) this week.
Recipe 1: Yucca in garlic sauce
The first recipe I attempted was yucca in garlic sauce from this website: http://www.food.com/recipe/yucca-with-garlic-sauce-yuca-con-mojo-148632. Admittedly, duration was my main criterion for choosing this recipe, as 55 minutes seemed reasonable. It ended up taking me almost twice that time 😐 . Turns out this recipe required some mind reading in addition to the plain reading I learned in school – the recipe doesn’t explicitly say to cover the darn thing with WATER (not just lime juice) and bring to boil but guess what – yucca won’t get tender if you just saute it! I kept waiting and waiting and waiting for the yucca to get softer to no avail. Finally, I listened to the little culinary instinct I could muster and added some water, and voila! – tenderness at last! Only an hour later than scheduled – and probably still not tender enough. The mix of garlic, lemon juice, onions and olive oil heated until bubbling released a mouth watering aroma, and in the end I decided that the thing was, after all, edible. My only problem with it was that it was too oily for my taste (perhaps I should have adjusted the quantities in the recipe?), and a few bites were enough to make me feel full (I normally don’t use so much oil in cooked food) and craving for a pickle.
Recipe 2: Yucca in coconut sauce
Armed with more patience and the valuable knowledge that yucca needs to boil in water, the next recipe I decided on was yucca in coconut sauce: http://abc.go.com/shows/the-chew/recipes/cassava-in-coconut-sauce-mahogo-wa-nazi-carla-hall. The short declared time duration again made this one very appealing, plus I was secretly hoping it would be as yummy as the thai coconut curries I sometimes have when eating out. Wishful thinking!
I ended up cutting the amount of coconut cream and coconut milk recommended in half because it just seemed too sweet and too fatty to me – to not much avail – the dish was still too sweet and too fatty for my taste when dinner is concerned. I cut corners with the toasted coconut flakes and fresh jalapeños for garnish (used plain coconut flakes and pickled jalapeños – since I’m not much of a fan of them anyway), so my end result looked like a disappointing caricature of the picture on the recipe website. But it was edible, and only ended up throwing a little bit of it .
Recipe 3: Chayote squash
After my incursion into the realm of sweet coconut yucca delights, I decided I needed to return to the familiar grounds of savory food for dinner, albeit with an unknown vegetable.
The last recipe I tried this week was chayote squash with onions: http://www.food.com/recipe/chayote-and-onions-8902 .
This was probably my favorite out of the three (although still a bit too oily), and the recipe was just as I like it: quick and easy. I only replaced the oregano with an Italian mix that had some other herbs in addition to oregano, but other than that followed the recipe closely. For some protein, I grilled a sausage on the side.
Conclusions: Not sure I will cook any of these recipes again, since I wasn’t blown away by any of them. To be honest, I prefer my go-to fresh tomato salad and feta cheese dinner over all three. So from this perspective, I think my “healthy/ veggie” eating has possibly gone down this week – perhaps due to poor recipe choices. As for purchasing fresh produce in bulk, I don’t think that can work for me since I don’t cook so much at a time and they’d go bad.