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EST. 2011 BY LIZ RUEVEN
Seasonal Snippet: Jicama Lends Tropical Crunch to Winter Dishes

Seasonal Snippet: Jicama Lends Tropical Crunch to Winter Dishes

By Katy Morris

Jicama (pronounced “hee-ka-mah”) has made its way up north to uplift our winter dishes with its welcoming crispness – a perfect textural contrast to all the root veggies we’ve been roasting lately.

And with Chanukah calories having settled into certain, ahem, body parts, it’s the perfect time to switch gears and think about raw, low-cal, seasonal salads.

Jicama adds a juicy, mild crunch that’s set off by a refreshing sweetness. It’s a member of the bean family, native tuber of the Americas, and is often referred to as Mexican turnip. Stroll down the street in Mexico and you’ll find it julienned with a simple splash of lime juice and dash of chili powder.

 

Where can I find jicama? 

 

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

If you’re taking a break from the chilly temps this winter and heading south of the border, you’ll find jicama in local outdoor markets and from street vendors. Jicama can be steamed and stewed, but it is most often eaten raw with a few simple ingredients for a refreshing and nutritious snack or atop tacos or salads as a garnish. Their refreshing quality also perfectly balances biting spices in salsas and dips.

 Not taking a winter escape this year? ¡No hay problema! Jicama can be found in plenty of stores up north, like Balducci’s and Whole Foods. They’re exported from the south but are starting to grow stateside in Texas and California, as well.

 

What should I look for when buying?

 

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

Many places sell them pre-cut, but if you’re looking for them whole, they will be those bulbous, potato or turnip-like root vegetables. Their bumpy, gray, tan or brown skin protects a creamy white flesh inside. Pick firm jicama without blemishes, bruises or dents. Go for those that are medium-small in size (larger ones tend to be starchier and less sweet).

 

What’s the best way to use jicama? 

 

Photo; Liz Rueven
Photo; Liz Rueven

Simply wash (super well), peel and enjoy. That’s it!

Jicama is often eaten raw, as it does not discolor quickly like many other chopped vegetables and fruits (hence why they are often sold pre-cut). It adds a nice crunch once peeled (note: the skin is not edible), sliced or cubed and tossed in a salad in place of cucumbers or apples, or added to crudité platters.

This Latin America tuber is also great atop tacos (you have to check out Liz’s award-winning Turkey Taco recipe if you haven’t already) and paired with complementary flavors and textures like onions, avocadoes, tomatoes, and cilantro.

 

You can indeed cook jicama; just keep in mind that it soaks up other flavors quickly. It’s best to use quick-cooking methods so it can retain some of its crispness. Consider adding jicama to stir-fries instead of water chestnuts. You can also treat them like potatoes and mash them up or use them for a cool twist on French fries.

 

Photo: Liz Rueven
Photo: Liz Rueven

Storage tips?

Treat them as you would potatoes and store in a cool dry place when you buy them whole. If you buy them pre-cut or chop up too many at once and need to store some, put them in a plastic bag in your fridge after splashing with acidic juice. They should be good for a couple weeks.

 

We want to give a special thanks to Hannah Kaminksy and Nava Atlas for their duo-contribution of this simply delicious recipe. For more vegan (always kosher and pareve!) recipes check out Nava Atlas‘ chock full of goodness blog, VegKitchen  and Hannah Kaminsky’s vegan creations at Bittersweet blog.

 

 

Have you experimented with jicama? How do you prepare it?  Comment below and let us know!

 

 

Jicama Salad with Oranges and Watercress

 

Photo: Hannah Kaminsky
Photo: Hannah Kaminsky

This salad recipe was shared by Nava Atlas. 

According to Atlas, “This colorful and crunchy salad is a perfect way to dress up a fall harvest or holiday meal.”

This recipe is raw, vegan, pareve, gluten-free.

 

Ingredients

 

  • 1 medium jicama, peeled and cut into short narrow strips
  • 3 to 4 clementines or other small seedless oranges, sectioned
  • 1 bunch watercress, mostly leaves, some stem fine to include
  • ¼ cup cilantro or parsley leaves
  • 4 to 6 ounces mixed baby greens
  • Juice of ½ lime to 1 lime, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon agave nectar or maple syrup
  • ¼ cup toasted pumpkin seeds

 

Instructions

 

  • Combine the jicama, orange sections, watercress, cilantro or parsley, and mixed greens in a serving bowl and stir together.
  • Drizzle the lime juice, olive oil, and agave over the salad and toss again.
  • Let stand for 15 minutes or so for the flavors to meld.
  • Scatter the pumpkin seeds over the top and serve.

 

 

 

 

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