It was recently brought to my attention that there is a vegetable out there that I had not yet tasted and knew very little about. In my arrogance, I didn’t think that such a vegetable existed,but as I walked through Cafe Blu, the charming little cafe at The Sports Club/LA – Boston (where I just landed the job as dietitian!), I saw their smoothie of the month: Jicama Coco-Banana. Jicama, pronounced “hickama”, is a new one for me. I think that I, and perhaps many other people, have overlooked it in the supermarket because it doesn’t exactly catch your eye. It kind of looks like a potato crossed with a turnip and can be quite large, though you don’t want to choose the biggest ones. The smaller sized tend to have better flavor and are easier to peel and slice. Typically, I say “leave the skin on” for almost all vegetables for added nutrients and even flavor but jicama’s skin is very tough and a little bitter so it should be peeled off before eating. Per usual, I consulted Martha, to learn how to properly peel and cut this vegetable. The flesh was not at all what I expected. It is similar to a water chestnut in texture (watery, crunchy), but has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor. It is low in calories, loaded with fiber, and vitamin c, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, and calcium so essentially this vegetable is good for your bones, immunity, heart and digestive system. It might be a new favorite.
As I tried to figure out what to do with my freshly peeled, cut jicama, I found inspiration from a recent trip to the farm and a recipe contest through Cabot Creamery. Earlier this week, I visited The Kitchen Garden farm in western Massachusetts to check out the farm and help them clear out their winter greenhouses. For lunch, they pulled up some beautiful radishes that were the most vibrant shade of red that I’ve ever seen.
I’ve been craving fresh vegetable salads lately and am having fun making various vinaigrettes, that are easy and so much better than store bought. Though, I like my salads to have some substance to them, something that will fill me up and add heartiness. Enter Cabot’s 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese. You can always find a couple of blocks of this cheddar in my fridge to make vegetable frittata’s, sandwiches, or simply with some fruit as a snack. Most people don’t realize this but Cabot’s Cheddar Cheese is naturally lactose-free, making it a great option for people like me who are lactose intolerant. Of course, cheese is an animal product, which means the saturated, “bad” fat can be quite high. Many cheeses are highly processed too (think Kraft American singles and package shredded Mexican cheese blends) which can mean trans-fat, preservatives, fake coloring, and other things that just should not be in cheese.
I’ve taste-tested many reduced fat cheeses and Cabot’s 50% reduced fat cheddar is by far the best. So, it was a no-brainer when they asked me to participate in a recipe contest. I was not paid for this contest (although I’m really hoping to win a prize for best recipe!!) but they did send me free cheddar cheese, and some fun goodies like a cheese cutting board and knife, and travel coffee mugs. Best thing I’ve gotten in the mail in awhile
So, inspired by a new vegetable, farm-fresh radishes that I pulled straight from the ground, homemade vinaigrette, and delicious cheddar cheese, I came up with this recipe:
Jicama Radish Cheddar Salad with Citrus Cumin Vinaigrette
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 1/2 orange, peeled, pieced and sliced into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1 cup peeled, sliced jicama
- 1/4 cup sliced radishes
- 2 ounces, cubed (1/4 of a block) of Cabot’s Reduced Fat Cheddar Cheese
Wash and dry the spinach, peel and piece the orange and slice into 1/4 inch pieces, peel and slice the jicama into 2-3 inch sticks, wash and thinly slice the radishes, cube the cheese. Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl.
Citrus Cumin Vinaigrette (adapted from Food.com)
- 1 garlic clove , peeled
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 3 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 tablespoon shallot, minced
- 3 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon cumin powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 cup olive oil
Mince garlic or use a garlic press
Whisk together the garlic with the juices and remaining ingredients except the oil.
- Whisk in the the oil.
- Drizzle over the Jicama Raddish Cheddar Salad
This salad tasted absolutely delicious. There was a nice combination of sweetness from the oranges and dressing, freshness and crunch from the jicama and radishes, and salty creaminess from the cheese. This colorful salad is full of vitamins, minerals, protein and heart healthy fat. Enjoy!
Check out what the other contestants did with Cabot Cheddar!