In July, many Cubans may celebrate the Feast of St. James with traditional dishes during a week-long carnival held near the saint day of St. James. Ropa Vieja, Cuba’s national dish, is a nourishing stew of beef, tomato sauce, onions, and peppers over yellow rice and sure to be eaten during festivals.

Cuba's National Dish: Ropa Vieja

Nochebuena (Christmas Eve), the most celebrated Cuban holiday, includes a simple, traditional and delicious menu. Roast pork served with garlic sour orange sauce, rice, black beans and yuca is often the featured dish.

Yuca Root as a Substitute Ingredient

Yuca is the root of the Cassava plant and found primarily in South America. This is not to be confused with the Yucca plant native to the southeastern United States, which is unrelated and is considered a succulent plant. As far as nutrition goes, yuca root is the third largest source of carbohydrates in the world and a major staple in many cultural dishes around the world. Yuca is often served in place of potatoes and can be used to make snacks like chips. Yuca has relatively no protein, but does contain high levels of essential fatty acids and twice the calories of potatoes. The starchy tuber is high in calcium, dietary fiber, potassium, and vitamins B6 and C.

Benefits of Yuca Root

Yuca root is gluten-free and the starch made from it is easily digested by anyone with dietary sensitivities. Yuca has been found to contain goitrogens, which are substances found in other cruciferous vegetables like cabbage that can block the intake of iodine by the thyroid. It is a versatile vegetable and easy to cook. 

Cuban Pork Roast Recipe

A traditional Cuban pork roast gets much of its flavor from the garlicky mojo that is used as both marinade and sauce. The garlic, spices and fruit combination gives lean pork a special aromatic and fruity flavor.

Look for yuca to serve as a side dish. If you can’t find yuca in your area, you can substitute for sweet or white potatoes. 


15 peeled cloves of garlic
1 ¼ tsp salt
1 large onion sliced
¼ cup orange juice
¼ cup lime juice (2-3 limes)
1 T dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1/3 cup olive oil
2 lb pork tenderloin

Cooking Instructions

1. Place garlic in mortar and crush with pestle. Sprinkle ¼ tsp of salt over the garlic and make into a paste.
2. Transfer garlic paste to a large zipped plastic bag and add remaining salt, onion, orange juice, lime juice, oregano, cumin and olive oil. Mix well. 
3. Pierce the flesh of the pork all over with a sharp knife and place in bag, making sure to coat pork well with marinade. Press out as much air as possible from bag and seal. Marinate in refrigerator for 30 minutes to 24 hours.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Place a nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Remove tenderloin from bag, taking care to leave behind as many bits of onions and garlic as possible. Reserve marinade.
5. Sear pork until golden brown on all four sides. Transfer pan to oven and roast for 30 minutes or internal temperature of 145 degrees F. 
6. Place reserved marinade in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for 2 minutes before lowering to a simmer. Continue cooking on low until the pork is ready to serve. When pork is ready, remove from oven and let it rest 5 minutes before slicing. Drizzle some sauce over the pork and serve remaining sauce on the side. 

Source: Today's Dietitian 2022

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