There’s more to salads than leafy greens. This jicama chopped salad is refreshing, crunchy and packs a powerful nutritional punch. (Photo/Betty Cortina)

Lighter Latin recipes: chopped jicama salad

If you’ve ever traveled through Mexico—or just about any Mexican neighborhood in the U.S.—you’ve likely run into thinly sliced jicama spiked with chile powder and fresh-squeezed lime, often served as an afternoon merienda. Today’s salad is inspired by that snack, though it can also work as a side dish or even a vegetarian main course.

Refreshing and crunchy, jicama is a sweet root vegetable that was first cultivated by the Aztecs. It’s high in fiber, potassium and especially vitamin C—meaning it’s a bona fide power food!—and it’s at its peak in the fall, so get ready to see more of them in local markets in the coming weeks. When buying jicama, look for small or medium sized ones. Larger ones aren’t as sweet and crisp. At home, store it in a cool, dry place and leave uncovered. Jicama is sensitive to moisture, which will quickly cause it to go bad, so don’t place it in the refrigerator. Once  you’ve peeled and chopped it, there’s no need to soak the jicama in water; just place in a bowl, cover with a damp paper towel and refrigerate. Try not to slice into the jicama until you’re just about ready to use it.

The recipe below pairs the jicama with avocado, red bell peppers and corn, perfect complements to amp up its natural sweetness. The chile powder gives it a classic Mexican kick, and a citrus-agave-nectar dressing brings it all together with a refreshing finish.

Jicama, corn & avocado chop

Jicama, corn and avocado chopped salad_V1/4 cup orange juice

1/8 cup lime juice

2 T agave nectar

1 garlic clove, minced

2 cups (about 1 lb) jicama, peeled, and diced in 1/2 inch pieces

2 Haas avocado, peeled, cored, and diced in 1/2 inch pieces

1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, deveined, and diced in 1/2 inch pieces

1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed

1 small shallot, finely diced (about 2 T)

2 T fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1/4 tsp chile powder

A pinch of ground cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

1. Whisk together orange and lime juice, agave nectar and minced garlic in a medium bowl. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, toss together the jicama, avocado, red bell pepper, corn, shallot, cilantro, chile powder and cumin. Pour the dressing citrus-agave dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Let Makes 4 to  6 servings.

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