Jicama (pronounced “HIK-uh-mah”) is a bulbous root vegetable with a mild, sweet taste. In Mexico, street vendors season it with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of salt and hot chili powder for a delicious, nutritious snack. But jicama is a versatile ingredient in any kitchen. Plus, it packs a powerful nutritional punch.
Jicama is a member of the legume family. Indigenous to Mexico and Central and South America, it has a thin, strong skin and crisp, juicy flesh. While its flavor is more similar to an apple or pear than to any vegetable, its texture is more like a radish (it’s nearly 90 percent water). Jicama ranges in size from 4 ounces to as much as 6 pounds, but tastes the same whether large or small. Choose jicama that has a slightly silky sheen. Blemishes, wrinkled skin, or bluish-green soft or dark spots indicate old, over-ripened jicama, which tends to be dry, stringy and starchy.
A good source of vitamin C, jicama also contains potassium, iron and calcium — nutrients that help boost the immune system, aid muscle contraction and nerve transmission, help deliver oxygen to the tissues, and promote bone strength and density. It is also high in carbohydrates in the form of dietary fiber. Its sweet flavor and low sugar content make it a satisfying, healthy snack food for everyone, including diabetics or anyone concerned with sugar intake.
- Store whole, unwrapped jicama in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Wrap cut jicama with plastic and refrigerate it for up to one week.
- Always peel jicama by using a sharp paring knife or vegetable peeler. The fresher the vegetable, the easier it will peel.
- If you find the taste of jicama slightly starchy or floury, boil it for a minute or two. This process will eliminate any off-putting taste without destroying the nutrient content.
Jicama is most commonly enjoyed in its raw form, and it can also be cut into cubes, sticks or rounds. Or it can be shredded in salads, snacks, salsas, hors d’oeuvres and even desserts. Because of jicama’s unique crispness, it’s even more spectacular when cooked. It absorbs sauces without softening, making it an excellent addition to stir-fried vegetables.
- To boost flavor and crispiness of stir-fry meals and salads or slaws, substitute jicama in recipes calling for water chestnuts and daikon.
- To boil: Peel and chop jicama. Place in a pan of water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until softened. Drain boiled jicama, and then mash with a little butter, salt and pepper.
- To bake: Puncture the skin with a fork and bake at 375 degrees F for 45 minutes, or until softened. Cut the baked jicama in half, and top with a little sour cream or butter. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, chili powder or chopped chives. Eat the flesh, but not the tough, fibrous skin.
- Mix shredded or finely diced jicama with pineapple and avocado to make a flavorful, richly textured salsa.
- Combine jicama with fresh berries and other fruits to make a fruit salad with a wide variety of textures and a splash of bold white color.
- Include jicama sticks with carrots, celery and other raw veggies on vegetable trays.
Pico de Gallo Shrimp Salad
Presented by Conscious Cuisine®
Makes eight servings
3 cups cooked medium shrimp, chopped (about 1 pound)
1 cup diced jicama
2 cups chopped tomatoes (about two medium)
1/4 cup chopped red onion (about 1/2 small)
1 tbs. minced jalapeño pepper
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro
1 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
3 tbs. fresh lime juice (about two small)
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. ground white pepper
For the salad: In a mixing bowl, combine all of the salad ingredients. Mix well and refrigerate.
For the dressing: Using a small mixing bowl, combine all of the dressing ingredients. Stir vigorously until smooth. Fold dressing into shrimp mixture.
Refrigerate for 30 minutes prior to serving.
Calories 150; Protein 14 g; Total Fat 7 g; Saturated Fat 3.5 g; Carbohydrates 8 g; Dietary Fiber 1 g; Cholesterol 110 mg; Sodium 330 mg
Jicama Citrus Salad
Presented by Conscious Cuisine®
Makes six servings
2 1/2 cups julienne jicama, about one large
1 cup orange sections, about two medium
1 cup pink grapefruit sections, about one large
2 tbs. toasted pumpkin seeds
1 tbs. canola oil
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
1 tbs. fresh lime juice
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp. chili powder
Combine the jicama, orange, grapefruit and pumpkin seeds in a mixing bowl. Whisk together the dressing ingredients. Toss salad with dressing and chill for 30 minutes.
Per serving:Calories 110; Protein 3 g; Total Fat 4.5 g; Saturated Fat 0.5 g; Carbohydrates 17 g; Dietary Fiber 5 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 5 mg