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Flor de Itabo - A Traditional Delicatesse in Costa Rican Cuisine

Updated: Apr 1

Flor de Itabo costa Rica
This edible flower is found in many Costa Rican kitchens this time of year

As Semana Santa (Easter Week) approaches in Costa Rica, it is the time of year when the Flor de Itabo (yucca flower) flourishes. If you are travelling around the country, you will be sure to see people along the highway, especially between La Garita and the Grecia turnoff, selling these popular flowers which have become a staple in various Costa Rican local dishes. The Flor de Itabo, yucca flower in English, is a member of the agave family. It easily recognizable by its large cluster of bright white petals. The flavour varies depending on the species and on how old the flower is; older flowers can become slightly bitter. But in general, the flower petals — you usually only eat the petals — are firm, slightly crunchy, and taste like a combination of a green bean and the innermost leaves of an artichoke. In Costa Rican cuisine, it is used as an ingredient for tortillas/omelettes, stews occasionally in stuffed tamales, cajetas (creamy homemade candy) and other items such as salads. Picadillo de Flor de Itabo

Flor de Itabo Gallos

My favourite recipe is a traditional picadillo (from the Spanish verb picar: to mince or to chop). Picadillo de Flor de Itabo may be served as a main course at lunch or as a delicious side dish at dinner time.

Take notes about this delicious recipe:

All you need to prepare your own picadillo de Flor de Itabo is:

  • 2 cups Flor de Itabo,

  • 2 eggs lightly beaten,

  • 4 potatoes cubed and pre-cooked in water with salt,

  • 1 finely chopped onion,

  • fresh thyme and vegetable oil,

  • spices: salt, white pepper, cumin and cilantro.

First, pluck the flowers from the stems and remove the centres of each. This part of the flower gives it its characteristic, slightly bitter flavour so most people prefer to only use the white petals of the flower. Wash the flowers carefully in fresh water, dry and set aside. Next, in a frying pan, at medium heat, warm the oil and add the onions until transparent but not browned, then add the fresh thyme. Add the flowers until they begin to wilt; adding in about 1/4 cup water will help to cook them evenly and avoid browning. Finally, when the flowers are tender but not overcooked, add the eggs, potatoes, salt, white pepper, and cumin. Garnish with finely chopped cilantro. Serve with warm corn tortillas on the side and enjoy a tasty, healthy Tico Easter meal.

Flor de Itabo provides an excellent source of vitamin C and it also contains iron, phosphorus, calcium and niacin.

Most of Costa Rica’s Indigenous people who lived around yucca used the plant extensively: They ate the flowers, stalks and fruits, used the fibrous, spiky leaves for cordage, and mashed the pulpy root with water for soap. Talk about multi-purpose! To learn more about Costa Rica’s culinary past and future, join Foodie Tours Costa Rica for one of our farm-to-table eating experiences in San Jose. It’s the most delicious way to get to know Costa Rica. —— Flor de Itabo (yucca flowers) flourish in Costa Rican cuisine. #eatlocal #eatseasonal #flordeitabo #costarica #foodtours #recipeoftheday #picadillo #FoodieToursCR Edible flowers & seasonal recipes! Try the flourishing yucca flower in your next culinary adventure! #recipes #FoodieToursCR #CostaRica #PuraVida #EatHealthy #EatSeasonal #FlorDeItabo

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