Summer Jewel Salad
In the June issue of Southern Living magazine, I spotted jicama in the list of ingredients in a watermelon salad and was intrigued. I’ve eaten jicama before and liked it, but never made anything with it, set out to buy it and when the sign at the grocery store read Jicama that’s what I thought I was buying. Wrong, it was a yuca (also known as cassava). I discovered this when I consulted YouTube to make sure I was dealing with the jicama properly and thought, “Whaaaaat? That looks nothing like the jicama I have!” After a little more internet research, I discovered I had a yuca in my possession and got back in the car to find…jicama. <sigh>
Jicama found and ready for salad making! Note above: they look nothing alike and more importantly, yuca or cassava cannot be consumed raw and can be toxic. Jicama is a root-like vegetable with a crunchy, starchy-sweet consistency and can definitely be consumed raw! It goes well with the juicier elements of the salad: watermelon, canteloupe, mango and cucumber. I used a potato peeler to peel it and then got out my newest kitchen toy (drumroll please) – the mandoline!
This is a wonderful tool for making even, perfectly thin slices. It also juliennes in a few different thicknesses, but take care to use the finger guard! The blade is super sharp.
Beautiful julienne and my fingertips are still intact.
I’ve adjusted the original recipe to include the additional step of lightly salting the watermelon, cantaloupe and cucumber first to release their excess juices. I let them sit while I chopped the other ingredients, then drained the salted mix and made my own mixture of honey, lime juice and cayenne pepper to toss everything together with. The bowl wasn’t full of excess juice/water and it made a huge flavor difference since it wasn’t completely watered down. You can substitute agave nectar, but I prefer the honey which has a little more body to stand up to the juices of the fruits and vegetables. Now what to call it? That was a dilemma. It’s not a true fruit salad and it’s both sweet and a bit savory so I settled on the purely visual: Jewel Salad. Beautiful red watermelon, gold mango, melon cantaloupe, white jicama and green cucumber, jalapeno and cilantro that is cold, crunchy, sweet and a tad spicy-savory. Yum. But, like most fruit-veg salads, it does get a little
weird off after a day or two. So, make a big bowl and devour.
- 2 limes, juiced
- Kosher Salt
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
- 1/2 small red onion, chopped
- 1/4 Cup cilantro, chopped
- 1 Tablespoon mint, chopped
- 1/2 small seedless watermelon, diced
- 1/2 small cantaloupe, diced
- 1 seedless English (hothouse) cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1/2 jicama, peeled and diced or julienned
- 1 mango, peeled and diced*
Combine lime juice, honey and cayenne pepper in a small bowl and set aside. Dice watermelon, cantaloupe and cucumber. Place in a separate bowl, toss with a pinch of salt and set aside while chopping the other ingredients. In a large bowl, combine jalapeno, red onion, cilantro, mint, jicama and mango*. Drain the excess liquid from the watermelon, cantaloupe and cucumber and add to the large bowl with the other ingredients. Toss with the lime juice mixture and either eat immediately or cover and chill for up to 2 days.
Inspired by Carolyn Kumpe’s recipe in the June, 2012 issue of Southern Living magazine.
*Mangoes can be tricky to deal with, but I found this video enormously helpful!