Jícama Salad

Only yesterday the large brown-wrapped crisp tuber called jícama was as exotic in American produce stores as the kiwi was the day before that. Thanks to adventurers like Frieda Caplan of Frieda’s Finest in California, who introduced both strangers into our kitchens, we can now savor in Oshkosh and Kalamazoo fruits and vegetables once restricted to native wilds. The jícama of Mexamerica is one of the best of these newcomers because it is as crisp as a fresh waterchestnut, as sweet as a white turnip, and keeps as well as a carrot.

Jícama makes an excellent base for a salad because its sweetness complements tart fruits like oranges and reinforces sweet vegetables like carrots. The only disadvantage with jícama is that it turns brown once it is peeled so that you need to squeeze citrus juice, like lime or lemon, over its cut surfaces as you would do with an avocado. Here I’ve used orange juice because one of the best traditional salads is of jícama and orange segments.

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Ingredients

  • 1 large jícama (to make 2–3 cups diced or julienned)
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2 navel oranges
  • 6 tomatillos, or 2–3 green tomatoes
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 1 large bunch arugula, rinsed
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • salt and black and cayenne pepper

Method

Peel brown skin from jícama and julienne the flesh in a food processor or dice it. Mix with the orange juice and set aside.

Peel and segment the oranges, removing membranes and pith. Remove husks from the tomatillos and slice very thin. Grate carrots.

Drain the jícama, reserving the orange juice. Arrange vegetables by color on a bed of arugula. Put carrots in the center, surround with the white jícama, then the orange segments, and finally the tomatillos.

Make a thin mayonnaise by mixing the yolk with the lemon juice, and beating in the oil slowly. Thin with reserved orange juice. Season to taste.