These shiny, nubbly tubers glistening in yellows or dark reds seem to have found a popular place in Aotearoa’s soil and plates. Given the somewhat misleading name here of New Zealand Yam, Oxalis Tuberosa hail from the Andes of South America where their true name of oca originates. They are often cooked alongside or in place of potato, being baked or mashed as a warm side dish to a roast. While they can certainly take the place of a potato in many dishes, that’s where their seeming similarities end. NZ yams can be eaten raw, and the entire plant is edible- tuber, shoots, and clover-like leaves. (Never eat the leafy green of a potato, as they are toxic.) Oca has a lemony hint akin to sorrel when raw. The lemon flavour diminishes when cooked, whereupon they become slightly more floury than a potato.
Yams are a cinch to clean and ready for whatever dish you choose. Simply scrub gently with a cloth if necessary, and remove any blemishes with a sharp paring knife. They do not need to be peeled, so there is very little waste product with these small tubers.
Raw yams vary in flavour, from almost sweet to that touch of lemon tang; the higher in oxalate levels they are, the more distinct the lemon bite. Leaving them raw also retains their gorgeous hues, which will diminish when cooked.
-Shave and toss in salads.
-Thinly slice and pair with fresh fruit for a surprising element in fruit salad.
-Grate and mix through thick yoghurt with herbs and sea salt for a dip with flatbread or crackers.
-Pickle with vinegar.
Cooked yams are able to stand alongside many a root vegetable, or even take their place:
-Roast in a hot oven simply with olive oil, salt and pepper.
-Or mix through balsamic and maple syrup to roast.
-Toss with honey and orange juice, then bake with chunks of carrot.
-Mix with potato, beetroot, celeriac, or pumpkin and surround a main.
-Grate and make fritters to pan fry.
-Chop and use in stir-frys with broccoli and dark greens.
-Use in soups or stews as you would potatoes.
-Boil and mash with butter and lemon thyme or sumac for a lemony mashed dinner base.
-Treat them as you would a small new potato and have at it.
-Take a leaf from their homeland of the Andes and make a marmalade-like oca jam.
While NZ yams are more perishable than potatoes, when stored in a cool dark place they will last for months. Unlike potatoes, a little sunlight can do them good; if you're keen to try them raw, sit them on a sunny windowsill for a few days before eating to enhance their sweetness.
Have questions about yams or another unknown vegetable from your box? Need inspiration for something new to do with the tried-and-true? Made one of the shared recipes? Let us know! Message or tag @streamsideorganics and @nakedcakesandwholefoods
Created by Elena Keir of Naked Cakes and Wholefoods