Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cucumber Jicama Salad

(Printable Recipe)

Cool cucumber and lightly sweet jicama make a perfect summery combo for this light slaw or salad. It's a crunchy and refreshing alternative to creamy cole slaw, with plenty of flavor from the upside-down vinaigrette that's more vinegar than oil and has just the right punch of red chili paste to spice it up. If this sounds like a mix that's all over the map, that's because it is - a little bit Asian, a little bit south of the border, and a dab of good old backyard garden.

While the summer cukes and Vidalia onions are in abundance I could eat this slaw every day. English cucumbers will certainly suffice in winter and purple onions will do (and add some nice color). Jicama adds the real crunch in this dish, and it's usually in my grocery all year round, looking like a fat round potato that has found its way into the Odd Vegetable bin. Most grocers stock these near similarly strange produce or root vegetables.

First of all, here's the quick and easy way to get into this tuber. Forget peeling it. Go for your largest sharpest knife and chop off four "sides" to get it into a boxy shape. Set it up on one of the flat sides and take off the top and bottom the same way so you're left with a nice square shape you can easily slice.
Keep what's left in the middle!

Now cut into thin slices.
Stack the slices into manageable piles and cut down through the whole stack for julienned sticks. If you're starting to think you'll just skip the cutting and get out your grater, do resist! The jicama might withstand it but grate that cucumber and you'll have cucumber water on your hands and little else. Great to splash on your face but not so good for our slaw, ah...we'll just call it a salad instead.

Finally, chop through the stacks one more time for inch or so length pieces.  And it's time to match the cucumber to the jicama.

Peel and halve from end to end, then again across the middle. If there are lots of seeds, just scrape them out with a spoon so that what is left is firm flesh only. Stand the pieces on end and slice into thin flats that can be julienned into strips as we did the jicama. Again, resist the temptation to grate like a regular slaw, although you could slice in little half moons if you think that's simpler, you'll just loose some of the crunch that makes this salad so refreshing.

Finally, the onion. Thinly slice and chop those strips into smaller sticks to match our other vegetables.
You'll see here a bit of chopped green onion (scallion) that I decided to add as a garnish  to the finished dish also, for good looks and a different onion flavor element.

So, to the finished measure: 1 cup each of cucumber and jicama with 1/4 cup onion. You'll probably have more than enough to double this recipe, but to this measure of vegetables pictured, use the following recipe of vinaigrette initially:

Whisk together 2 Tbs Rice Vinegar, 1 Tbs Olive Oil, 1 tsp each of Splenda and Red Chili Paste, and a pinch of salt. (Most every grocery stocks Rice Vinegar and Red Chili Paste with other Asian foods.)
Rice Vinegar is very different in flavor than plain white vinegar or wine vinegar, having a hint of natural sweetness without adding carbs or calories. 

Give it a taste before you pour: if
you like more heat - add a little more chili paste, more sweetness - an extra dash of Splenda, if tangy is what you like - another splash of the vinegar.

And now, the anointing of the salad: toss with only half the dressing for starters and then see how much you really need. I had plenty of extra vegetables and used all the dressing, but see what tastes best to you!

1 large cucumber
1 jicama
1 small Vidalia onion
(or purple onion)
1 Scallion, green top only
Rice Vinegar
Red Chili Paste
Olive Oil

SummerFest at the Food Network website (FN Dish) is back! Once again, you'll find my foodie blogs on the Food Network along with other great food lovin' bloggers, offering up our best ideas for your Farmer's Market finds all summer long. Each week we'll be blogging together with the FN Dish to produce fabulous ways to enjoy your produce!  This week, it's cucumbers. Check out these delicious ideas:



  1. I love the addition of jicama here!

  2. I fell in love with Jicama this spring when I went to Cabo! Looks like a Refreshing crunchy salad. Fun sharing Summer Fest with you!