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Cooking

Crunch!

Count on jicama to liven up your salads.

Spiced and lightly dressed jicama, mango, cucumber, pineapple, and watermelon spears make a fresh Mexican-style snack.

Photograph by Jim Scherer. Styling by Catrine Kelty.

Spiced and lightly dressed jicama, mango, cucumber, pineapple, and watermelon spears make a fresh Mexican-style snack.

TIP Use a paring knife to peel jicama, making sure you remove the fibrous layer just beneath the skin.

 

MEXICAN-STYLE JICAMA SNACK

Serves 6

 Make sure to use a pure chili powder, rather than one that includes other spices, for this recipe (check the ingredients listing on the label), and don’t dress the vegetables and fruit until serving time. Adapted from the PBS cooking show Pati’s Mexican Table.

 1 pound jicama, peeled and cut into thin spears

6 Persian cucumbers, peeled if desired, quartered lengthwise

¾ of a medium pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into wedges

2 pounds (about 1¼ pounds if prepped) seedless watermelon, rind removed and flesh cut into thin spears

2 large ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, and flesh cut into thin spears

2 thin-skinned limes, cut into wedges, or more if desired

1½ teaspoons pure chili powder, or more if desired

Kosher or any large-grain salt

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On a platter or in a bowl, arrange the jicama, cucumbers, pineapple, watermelon, and mangoes. Squeeze the lime wedges over the mixture (and drop the squeezed wedges onto the mixture if desired), sprinkle with the chili powder and salt to taste, and serve.

SHRIMP AND JICAMA SALAD WITH AVOCADO

Serves 6 as an appetizer

 Avocados that are about one day away from being perfectly ripe are best for this recipe.

 1 pound medium shrimp, shelled and deveined

¼ teaspoon sugar

Salt and black pepper

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

2 Hass avocados

1½ teaspoons plus ¼ cup fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon honey

1 garlic clove, minced

1½ small serrano peppers, seeded if desired, and minced

1 pound jicama, peeled and cut into 2-inch matchsticks

½ cup finely chopped red onion

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro

In a medium bowl, toss the shrimp, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper. In a

Jim Scherer

Use a paring knife to peel jicama, making sure you remove the fibrous layer just beneath the skin.

large nonstick skillet over high heat, heat 1 tablespoon oil until just starting to smoke. Add the shrimp in a single layer and cook, undisturbed, until spotty brown and edges turn pink, about 2 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, stir the shrimp, and then let stand until almost completely opaque, about 40 seconds; transfer to a plate and set aside.

Cut the avocados in half and remove the pits. Working with one half at a time, use a dinner knife to make ½-inch crosshatch incisions in the flesh, cutting down to but not through the skin. With a soup spoon, scoop the avocado chunks out of the skins and into a small bowl. Sprinkle with 1½ teaspoons lime juice, stir gently, and set aside.

In a large nonreactive bowl, mix the remaining lime juice, honey, garlic, serrano peppers, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste. Vigorously whisk in the remaining oil. Add the shrimp, jicama, red onion, ½ teaspoon salt, and ground black pepper to taste, and toss to coat with the dressing. Add the avocado and most of the cilantro, and fold gently to combine (try not to mash the avocado). Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and black pepper, if necessary. Sprinkle with the remaining cilantro and serve.

 

BLACK BEAN SALAD WITH JICAMA AND MANGO

Makes about 8 cups

Arugula gives this salad a fresh, peppery note, but it wilts quickly — 10 minutes or so — after mixing it in. Either add it at the last minute before serving, or use it as a bed under the salad.

1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest

2½ tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Salt and black pepper

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

¾ pound jicama, peeled and cut into 3/8 -inch dice

1 small yellow or orange bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 3/8 -inch dice

½ large ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and cut into 3/8 -inch dice

¾ cup finely chopped red onion

4 scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil, plus a sprig for garnish

3 cups (loosely packed) arugula leaves, washed, dried, and chopped

In a large nonreactive bowl, mix the orange zest, lime juice, vinegar, honey, garlic, cumin, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper to taste. Vigorously whisk in the oil. Add the black beans, jicama, bell pepper, mango, red onion, scallions, 1 teaspoon salt, and ground black pepper to taste, and fold to mix and coat with dressing. Add the basil and arugula, and fold gently to combine. Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning with additional salt and black pepper, if necessary. Garnish with the basil sprig and serve at once.

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