Whenever I’ve tried to describe malanga to someone in the past, it’s usually limited to: “well, it’s kind of like a potato.” Do you like potatoes? If you don’t…I just, I don’t know what to do with that. But if you do, think of malanga as potato’s long, thin cousin (because we all have one). It’s a starchy root vegetable with a good deal of nutritional value and a lot of digestive benefits. In Cuban cuisine, this style of puree is typical for a lunch meal, and would commonly be eaten for lunch with an egg over-medium on top.
Growing up, I heard countless tales of the miraculous healing powers that this puree has for the stomach. You’ll have to be the judge on that, but, whether or not it has the power to heal, it can definitely be a deliciously fluffy side dish to many a Cuban entree. That being said, this is probably not the first thing I would make for someone trying Cuban food for the first time. This is more of a second-date dish (if you date your food, that is). My husband just laughed out loud at that last sentence – apparently “dating my food” is very me. Well, ain’t no disguising the truth.
Now, as a proper Cuban, I have a love affair with garlic. I do my best to dial it down for the sake of everyone’s breath, but let’s face it, garlic is a wonderful thing. I’ve included just a hint of garlic in this recipe, but it really makes all the difference between a bland puree and a tasty side dish – don’t skip it! As always, I’d love to know what changes/additions/subtractions you have found to make tasty twists on this recipe!
- 33 oz Malanga, peeled and sliced into 1.5" slices
- Salted water, for boiling
- 3 tbsp butter
- 3 garlic cloves
- ¾ cup 2% milk, warmed
- 1 tbsp cream cheese (optional)
- ½ tsp salt
- ⅛ tsp black pepper
- Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in the malanga slices. Bring back to a boil and cook for 15 minutes, or until the malanga is fork tender.
- While the malanga is cooking, add the butter and whole garlic cloves to a pan and saute on medium-low heat until the butter is slightly browned and the garlic is tender (about ten minutes). Discard the garlic cloves.
- When the malanga is done, drain all but ½ cup of the water the malanga was boiled in. Add in the butter, milk, cream cheese, salt, and black pepper. With an electric mixer or blender, puree the malanga mixture until completely smooth. *Because of the nature of the malanga, we are looking for a true puree - not a "mashed" texture*
- Taste the puree and adjust the salt as necessary.