Thursday, April 7, 2011
We had some cheese leftover from an appetizer spread I put together for our friends this past weekend, so this week we made quesadillas for dinner. The cheese was a ridiculously spicy Buffalo Wing aged cheddar laced with jalapeno, habanero, and cayenne peppers, along with a little hot sauce for good measure. I mellowed it out a bit by adding some Monterey Jack, black beans, and diced tomatoes in the quesadilla.
I usually try to pair quesadillas with something light, like a green salad, but that can get boring. In search of a fresh idea, I pulled out one of our newer cookbooks by Mark Bittman - The Best Recipes in the World. We got it for Christmas as a gift but for some reason, we had yet to delve into it. I had a couple of mangos in the fridge that were very ripe, so I looked for a fruit salad of some kind.
The salad I chose to make required two ingredients that I was not very familiar with - jicama and papaya. My WW leader raves about jicama (pronounced "hick-a-mah") at almost every meeting, and I've tried it before at restaurants and liked it, but I've never bought one and cut it up myself. I didn't even really know what it looked like.
Case in point: Joe's phone call to me from the store: "Does jicama look like a giant potato?"...quick Google search...pause...why yes it does, as a matter of fact!
The verdict? Jicama is awesome. It's crunchy like a water chestnut, and slightly sweet like an apple. It's one of those "free" WW foods, so I'm going to remember to think of this food when I'm feeling munchy but not really hungry. It's also a good source of fiber, potassium, and Vitamin C.
Guess what, papaya is awesome as well! Yay for trying new things! I admit, I was kind of afraid to try it, in fact I made Joe try it first. First you peel it, them you cut it in half and scoop out the seeds, which to me looked a bit like capers. I don't know why that creeped me out, but it did. The fruit itself reminded me of melon, like cantaloupe.
All in all, this salad was very refreshing and it went great with the quesadillas. It kept well in the fridge too, the jicama was still nice and crunchy a few days later when I brought some for lunch.
What's your favorite way to eat jicama? I still have half of a large one in the fridge, and I would love some suggestions!
Cucumber, Jicama, and Fruit Salad
adapted from Mark Bittman - the Best Recipes in the World
Notes: This salad calls for two cups of fresh fruit. I used mango and papaya, but you could also use oranges, apples, pineapples, peaches, melons - pretty much anything.
1 medium jicama (less than a pound), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
Salt to taste
2 cups fresh fruit in bite-sized pieces, peeled and seeded if necessary
Cayenne or pure chile powder, like ancho or New Mexico, to taste (the salad should be at least slightly hot)
Chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for garnish
Put the jicama and cucumber into a glass or ceramic (nonreactive) bowl. Add the lime juice and salt, toss to combine. Let sit for 30 minutes or so. Use this time to get the fruit ready.
When ready to serve, add the fruit and cayenne, toss to combine. Taste and add more spice until you are happy with the level of heat. Garnish with the cilantro, and serve.