Wednesday was officially the first day of summer 2012. Earlier this week I went to a farmers’ market for work, where a chef was giving a cooking demonstration to residents of Chicago’s Austin neighborhood. She taught them how to make a cold spaghetti dish with tomatoes, capers, and olives and she introduced them to a new food: jicama.
Native to Central America, jicama is a white tuber with a texture similar to a water chestnut. It’s an ideal food for a hot summer day, since it is almost completely made of water. Jicama does not have much flavor of it’s own, so once you’ve peeled the brown skin, serve it with a dip or dressing. When you go to the store look for a firm, heavy jicama with mostly unblemished skin and store it at cool temperatures.
In Latin America, jicama is served with lime juice, coarse salt, and ground chile. This salad plays on the idea, but adds a sweet and juicy element to it: watermelon. Nothing says summer like watermelon and with this heat, it’s high time we accept the fact that summer has arrived.
1 small to medium size watermelon
3 tablespoons orange juice
1 tablespoon lime juice (about 2 limes)
3 tablespoons basil, chiffonade
2 tablespoons mint, chiffonade
salt and pepper to taste
crumbled feta (optional)
Peel brown skin off jicama (some recommend using a spoon). Cut into 1/4 inch strips or into small dice.
Chop up watermelon into bite sized chunks.
Combine jicama and watermelon. Dress with orange juice and lime juice.
Toss with basil and mint. Season to taste.
Sprinkle with crumbled feta if using.