Are you familiar with jicama? This tuber looks like a seriously overgrown radish and is the root of a vine native to Mexico and Central America. The flesh is crunchy, mild, and even faintly sweet, and is often served with a little lime juice and chile powder to accompany Mexican dishes. I first encountered jicama (pronounced HICK-ah-mah) years ago in cafeteria salad bars, and on its own (how they typically serve it in those places), jicama can be a little boring. With some seasoning and lime juice, however, it comes alive, and is wonderfully refreshing, especially along side tacos and refried beans. This recipe comes from my friend Arturo who suggested to me the ingredients. (Thanks Arturo!)
Jicama salads are usually prepared with julienned jicama a little thicker than what I have shown here. Cut them this small (result of the mandoline) and the jicama pieces will bend a bit. And the salad will resemble more of a slaw than of chunky pieces of jicama. The good news is cut this way the salad will be easier to eat. Julienne or cube the jicama into pieces you are most comfortable eating.
Jicama Salad Recipe
If you are serving the jicama salad as a side to a spicy Mexican dish like enchiladas or tostadas, then you don't need to add olive oil or avocados. There is enough fat in the main dish to balance the acidity in the salad. In fact, a benefit of the salad is that it does just that, brings balance to these types of dishes. But, if you are serving the salad on its own, then you may want to add a little olive oil or some chopped avocado to the salad so it is balanced in and of itself.
- 1 large jicama (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, then julienned or cubed (easiest to work with if you cut the jicama in half first)
- 1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/2 yellow bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/2 green bell pepper, finely diced
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1/2 a large cucumber, seeded, chopped
- 1 navel orange, peel cut away, sliced crosswise, then each round quartered
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1/3 cup lime juice
- Pinch of cayenne
- Pinch of paprika
- 1/2 avocado chopped
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Toss together the jicama, bell peppers, red onion, cucumber, orange, and cilantro in a large serving bowl. Pour lime juice over all. Sprinkle with a pinch of cayenne and paprika. Season generously with salt.
2 Let sit a half an hour before serving.
Yield: Serves 4.