The tropical root vegetables (Yautías, Yucas or Ñames) are a staple in the Puerto Rican culture. The cooked root vegetables are served like a potato and accompanied with meat or fish. Boiling the root vegetables is the most common method used for cooking the root vegetables.
However, I prefer to steam the root vegetables because you retain more of the nutritional value and the root vegetables remain firm and tender. When using the boiling method, the root vegetables tend to become too soft. In contrast, steaming the root vegetables will always produce a nutritional, flavorful, firm and tender cooked root vegetable.
Viandas is the term often referred to the root vegetables collectively. However, verdura and vianda are also two interchangeable words that are often used when referring to the root vegetables.
Let Me Introduce You to Our Root Vegetables!
Cut both ends and peel the taro root (yautía) with a potato peeler or knife. Rinse and cut into 2-inch slices or to the size of your preference.
The Spanish term for the taro root is yautía. It is a tuberous, starchy root vegetable with brown and shaggy skin. The flesh can vary in color from white, yellow and pink. The Taíno Indians cultivated the taro root and ate the leaves because they were similar to a large cabbage.
Cut both ends and peel the cassava (yuca) with a sharp knife since it has a hard skin. Rinse and cut into 2-inch slices or to the size of your preference.
The Spanish term for the cassava is yuca. It is a tuberous, starchy root vegetable with a dark brown hard rind protecting the firm white flesh that has a stiff cord running lengthwise down the center of the yuca. The Taíno Indians also cultivated the cassava, grated the yuca into a flour and prepared a flatbread with this root vegetable known as “casabe.”
After cutting the cassava into 2-inch slices, cut the cassava in half to remove the fibrous string located in the center lengthwise.
Here is our famous yam. Cut both ends and peel the yam with a knife. Rinse and cut into 1¼-inch slices or to the size of your preference. If the round slices are too large, you can cut the round slices in halves.
The Spanish term for the yam is ñame. The yam has a relatively thin dark brown skin with a rough surface. The flesh can either be white or yellow. It was brought to Puerto Rico from West Africa. The Caribbean yam is definitely different from the yam cultivated in the United States.
Soaking the Root Vegetables!
If you want your root vegetables seasoned with salt before steaming them, mix water and salt (to taste) in a large bowl. Add the root vegetables and soak for 30 minutes to an hour.
This step is completely optional. If you want to reduce your salt intake, you can omit this step.
Steaming the Root Vegetables!
Add sufficient water to steamer and insert steamer basket, making sure that the water is below the steamer basket. Place root vegetables into steamer basket. Cover with lid and steam root vegetables over medium heat for 30 minutes or until fork tender.
Once the root vegetables are cooked, remove the steamed root vegetables from the steamer basket and place in a bowl.
Traditional Method of Cooking the Root Vegetables!
Pour water into a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Add salt.
As I mentioned earlier, we traditionally boil the root vegetables. This demonstration are for those individuals that prefer the boiling method.
Place the root vegetables into the boiling water. Cover saucepan with lid and cook over medium heat for 30 minutes or until tender.
Remove the boiled root vegetables from the saucepan and place in a bowl.
Only the steamed taro root (yautía) is depicted in the picture above. This picture is to demonstrate how we serve our root vegetables on a plate accompanied with stewed salt cod. However, the actual food blogging picture for this recipe contains the image of all three root vegetables (taro root (pink flesh), yam and cassava).
Click on the button below to watch my YouTube video on How to Steam or Boil Root Vegetables!
Recipe and Nutritional Facts
Nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and is approximate only. Please refer to our Nutritional Facts Disclaimer for more information.Print
These root vegetables, each with its own tropical flavor and palate-pleasing texture, are a staple in our culture.
- ½ pound taro root (yautia), peeled and cut into 2-inch slices
- 1 pound yam (name), peeled and cut into 1¼-inch slices
- ½ pound cassava (yuca), peeled and cut into 2-inch slices
- 2 teaspoons salt (low sodium)
- Rinse root vegetables.
- Place the root vegetables in a vegetable steamer and steam for 30 minutes or until the root vegetables are fork tender.
- Remove from vegetable steamer.
- Place in a large bowl and serve with Stewed Salt Cod or Salt Cod Salad.
- Drizzle with olive oil if you so desire.
If you want your root vegetables seasoned with salt before steaming them, soak them for 30 minutes in a bowl with salt and water.
- Category: Lunch and Dinner
- Cuisine: Puerto Rican Cuisine
Keywords: Steamed or Boiled Root Vegetables