Mexican Potato

Jicama (pronounced hick-ah-mah) is a root vegetable native to Mexico.  The plant grows as a vine that can reach up to 20 feet in length.  It has white or blue flowers and pods that resemble something like a lima bean.  Interestingly enough, the entire plant is toxic except the root.  This root has a tough brown skin but when you peel that away, it opens to a milky white, juicy flesh that has a flavor similar to an apple with the crisp texture of a raw potato. 

While jicama has 12 carbs per cup, it is also packed with many vital nutrients.  The same cup has 6.4 grams of fiber which is 23% of the daily recommended intake (RDI), 44% RDI of Vitamin C, 4% RDI of folate, magnesium, iron and manganese and 6% RDI of potassium.  Jicama also contains small amounts of vitamin E, thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6, pantothenic acid, calcium, phosphorus, zinc and copper.  All of this with only 49 calories and .1 gram of fat.  Plus it tastes great! 

When it comes to using jicama, you must peel it first.  This is easily done with a knife or vegetable peeler.  Then it can be sliced, diced, wedged, ribboned, etc.  One thing to note, this root vegetable doesn’t oxidize like the others do so no need to worry about them turning gray like potatoes do.  Another thing to mention, it retains its crispness for quite some time.  I have sautéed and baked and still had it come out with a crunch.  In my family, we all like a little crunch to our food so it’s not a bad thing for me.  Use jicama instead of celery in some of your dishes for a new flavor!

A couple things to note.  The peel is edible, but is tough and fibrous and is most often discarded.  You can use a vegetable peeler, but I found the vegetable peeler takes the brown skin off but not all of the fibrous material.  I ended up just using a knife to peel it all off at once. To make it easier to peel, cut the ends off so it will rest flat on your surface.  One final thing, it is said it is easier to work with if you cut the jicama in half first.  I have done it both ways and it seems about the same to me so I am guessing it is more a preference. 

This oddly shaped vegetable can be used in lots of different ways. You can sauté, grill, boil, bake or even eat it raw.  Its mild flavor allows it to be added to other dishes without even noticing it.  I added it to chicken salad and my broccoli salad over the weekend and no one was the wiser. Next time, I might try bigger pieces to see if anyone notices.  I have eaten it raw almost daily for the last two weeks!  It is such a great, healthy snack.  I can’t believe I hadn’t ever tried this.    Make your grocery list and pick up this Mexican yam bean.  Look for one with few blemishes to ensure a good root.  Then join me in the kitchen for easy recipes using this tuber from dinner to snacks!  

Baked Jicama Fries 

1 medium jicama

1 Tbsp. avocado oil

½ tsp paprika

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

Pinch of cayenne pepper

½ tsp salt, or to taste

Preheat oven 425°F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Peel jicama and cut into 1/4 inch matchsticks. Transfer jicama slices to large bowl and toss with olive oil, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper and salt.  Place in single layer on prepared baking sheet. Bake for 30-45 minutes or until crispy, turning halfway. If you want inside to be less crisp, boil slices for about 10 minutes before baking.  Delicious served with ranch dip or guacamole.

Recipe adapted from healthiersteps.com

 

Jicama Salad

1 large jicama, peeled, then julienned or cubed

½ red or orange bell pepper, finely diced

1 yellow bell pepper, finely diced

½ cup chopped red onion

3 clementines (or mandarin oranges), peel cut away, sliced crosswise, then each round quartered

2 avocados chopped

cup lime juice

Pinch of cayenne

Pinch of paprika

Salt and pepper, to taste

Toss together jicama, bell peppers, onion and orange in large serving bowl.  Pour lime juice over all. Sprinkle with pinch of cayenne and paprika. Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Toss to mix well.  Let sit 30 minutes before serving.

Recipe adapted from simplyrecipes.com.

 

Chicken Jicama Sauté

2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch cubes

¼ tsp salt

1 tsp curry powder, divided

1 cup chicken broth

2 green onions, thinly sliced

¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 Tbsp. avocado oil

2 cups jicama, julienne-cut

1 red bell pepper, diced

Sprinkle chicken cubes with salt and 1/2 teaspoon curry powder.  In small bowl, combine broth, onions, crushed red pepper and remaining curry powder and set aside.  In wok, heat oil over medium high heat.  Add chicken.  Cook chicken, stirring frequently until browned.  Add jicama and bell pepper to wok.  Cook 3 minutes, stirring often.  Add broth mixture and cook an additional 3 minutes or until heated through.

Recipe adapted from food.com.

 

Roasted Jicama

1 jicama, peeled and cut into medium dice 

3 Tbsps. avocado oil

Salt and black pepper, to taste

½ cup finely chopped red onion

2 Tbsps. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1-1/2 tsp. hot sauce, more or less to taste

1 tsp. finely grated lime zest

Position rack in center of the oven and preheat to 425°F.  On rimmed baking sheet, toss jicama with 2 tablespoons oil, 1/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper, and arrange in single layer. Cover tightly with foil and roast, 25 minutes. Remove foil and continue roasting, tossing frequently, until jicama begins to brown on bottom and is crisp-tender, about 30 minutes more.  In medium bowl, combine jicama, remaining oil, onion, parsley, hot sauce and lime zest. Toss to coat and taste.  Adjust seasoning as desired if needed.  

 

Recipe adapted from finecooking.com