Jicama is an excellent ingredient for salads, and in this one it is the main event. If you've never tasted jicama, or always avoided it at the salad bar, you don't know what you're missing. It tastes a lot like an Asian Pear, only more subtle. It's crunchy and juicy and slightly sweet. It looks so unassuming in the grocery store, like a squat potato of sorts.
This salad also features watercress, one of my recent favorites, and avocado, which needs no introduction. The dressing is slightly spicy and beautifully citrusy, so it feels very appropriate for winter. I had this as my entree, but you could make smaller servings and have it as an appetizer. Either way, it's full of underrated flavors that combine to make something fantastic. And it's unusual enough that you can feel proud of yourself for not just serving up the same-old salad.
Adapted from Veganomicon, by Moskowitz & Romero
serves 2 to 3
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon EVOO or vegetable oil
1 tablespoon hot pepper sauce or chile sauce
1 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 small (or 1/2 large) jicama, peeled and grated
small bunch watercress, roots and bigger stems removed
1 ripe avocado, peeled, cut in half and sliced
1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped coarsely
6 mint leaves
1. The dressing: combine vinegar, orange juice, lime juice, EVOO, hot sauce, soy sauce, sugar, and sesame oil in a glass jar or salad shaker. Shake vigorously to combine. Let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes so the sugar dissolves. Shake again before using.
2. Place the shredded jicama in a bowl, and pour most of the dressing over it, reserving about 4 tablespoons worth. (Use your judgment - you might not need to use up all the dressing). Mix to coat.
3. On each plate, place a bunch of the watercress, dividing evenly. Place about a cup of the jicama-dressing mixture on each pile of watercress. Sprinkle with peanuts. Place avocado slices around the perimeter of the salad, or on top. Drizzle with additional dressing, garnish with mint, and serve.
It tastes like something you might find in a trendy Los Angeles restaurant. Only you'd probably pay about three times as much as it cost to make! Enjoy.