Don't be put off by jicama's unassuming appearance or funny name -- this little lump of a vegetable can be as fun to eat as its name is to say. Jicama, pronounced "hee-ca-ma" and also known as yambean, can be enjoyed raw or cooked. The slightly sweet flavor of this veggie makes it ideal for snacking and salads in its raw form; when it's time for dinner, use it just like you would a potato. Because it's lower in carbs than a potato, jicama is a healthy stand-in for that suppertime staple.
Whole Baked Jicama
Baking jicama whole is as simple as baking a potato. Pierce the skin with a fork several times and bake the jicama at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour. Let it cool for a few minutes and slice it in half. Serve the baked jicama just like you would a baked potato, with a pat of margarine, low-fat sour cream and any other embellishments you like. The skin of the jicama is tough and inedible, so scoop out the flesh and use the skin for compost or discard it.
Baked Jicama Chunks
The next time you make roast chicken or turkey breast, try baked jicama chunks rather than roasted potatoes as a side dish. Use a sharp paring knife to peel away the tough skin of the jicama and chop the flesh into bite-size chunks. Toss the jicama chunks with olive oil and herbs such as rosemary and basil. Spread the jicama pieces on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. Stir the pieces a few times during baking so that the jicama browns evenly.
Baked Jicama Fries
You can't have burgers without fries, but fried potatoes aren't the healthiest things you can put on the table. Try serving turkey burgers with jicama fries instead. Slice the jicama into thin slices, stack a few slices and cut across them to make French fry-sized pieces. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and heat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the jicama fries on the pan and season as desired. Bake the fries for 45 minutes or until they're tender; add a few minutes if you made your fries thicker, like home fries.
Other Uses for Jicama
Besides baking jicama, you can also chop or slice it and use it in stir-fries, soups and stews. The texture of stir-fried jicama is similar to that of a water chestnut, and when used in soups or stews, the jicama will absorb the other flavors nicely. Try boiling peeled jicama chunks until they're tender and mashing them like potatoes. If you're not up for cooking, slice or chop the peeled jicama and add it to a chef or green salad. Serve sliced jicama raw with salsa, guacamole or hummus for a healthy snack.
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April Fox has published articles about homeschooling, children with special needs, music, parenting, mental health and education. She has been a guest on Irish radio, discussing the benefits of punk rock on child development, and currently writes for several websites including Carolina Pediatric Therapy.
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