Eating furry roots: Malanga Blanca

Horrocks, a bizarrely awesome local grocery store/greenhouse/deli etc. has tempted me for a while with its eclectic produce section. I’ve particularly admired a selection of mysterious roots that I couldn’t remember eating before. I finally decided that trying a new vegetable locally is a really affordable alternative to experiencing new cuisines through traveling and picked up a furry root called Malanga Blanca. Touted as a hypo-allergenic alternative to potatoes and their ilk, the various Malanga root vegetables are originally from Central America and commonly grown in tropical areas. Higher in both fiber and calories than potatoes, they can be enjoyed mashed or fried. If cooked long enough, they will also disintegrate in soups and function as a mild tasting thickener. I decided to roast mine in the oven at 400 F with a sprinkling of salt and 2 tablespoons of avocado oil. Raw, the roots smelled a little earthy and a little like pineapple. The texture when peeling and cutting them up was similar to other roots, but almost a little slimy — probably the part that makes it a great thickener in soups. After roasting, the Malanga sticks were starchy crisp and tasted just slightly nutty. Unfortunately, I did roast them a little too long. They cook up a bit faster than potatoes. My guess is 20 minutes would have been perfect. Served with some fried Tilapia and a modified cabbage salad it was nevertheless a tasty adventure.

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