Serious Eats: Recipes

The Crisper Whisperer: Jícama, Black Bean and Corn Salad

Note: You may know Carolyn Cope as Umami Girl. She stops by on Tuesdays with ideas on preparing fruits and vegetables.

[Photograph: Carolyn Cope]

Technically speaking, the December holidays are over, so I don't owe you any more light, healthy meal ideas. Figuratively speaking, however, there's that darned overstuffed burrito in the room. Namely, me. And judging from the swarms of new faces at the gym this past week, perhaps some of you, too. I mean that in the nicest possible way.

I'm sorry, did someone say burrito?

Normally that would remind me of how much I like burritos. But with food resolutions on the mind and winter produce in the crisper, today it puts me in mind of a lovely little jícama salad that doubles as a light meal and a no-cook Super Bowl party side dish. January, you don't stand a chance.

Jícama is a tropical tuber found in many Latin American and East Asian cuisines. With a taste and texture somewhere between an apple and a potato, it can be eaten raw in salads and slaws or cooked (often stir-fried or boiled and mashed). Its mildly sweet flavor holds its own against spicy and acidic ingredients, and its crispness complements fattier foods beautifully.

It's best to peel jícama with a paring knife, since it has a thickish, fibrous layer underneath the skin that you'll want to discard with the peel. It will oxidize and turn brown over time, but not as quickly as you might think. With all the lime and orange juice in the recipe below, this salad can sit on a buffet for quite a while and still look good enough to eat.

What about you, serious eaters? What's your favorite way to eat jícama?

Jícama, Black Bean and Corn Salad

Adapted from Bon Appétit Magazine, July 2004.

About the author: Carolyn Cope writes Umami Girl and manages a CSA in Hoboken, New Jersey.

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