Jicama Salad from Hartwood Tulum

jicama salad

Let’s talk about spring.

Let me clue you in on a little secret. Spring (and one could argue fall) is a construct invented in a dark bunker deep under 5th Avenue by a sinister partnership between the retail and print media industry. It was invented, much like Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day as a labeled time period in which consumers must depart from their normal states and  are forced to buy things to survive: adapt or die. For Valentine’s day, men must purchase chocolates and jewelry to appease their lovers: women, then feel societal pressure to want these things regardless of their meaning. For St. Patrick’s day, large amounts of green clothing must be purchased and thousands of gallons of Coors Light beer is to be dyed green with food coloring. Similarly, for Spring we much purchase new things like trench coats, ballet flats, purple seersucker blazers and window boxes. Fashion magazines solicit hundreds of pages of advertising for “Spring Fashion” mega issues and florals vomit all over everything from skirts to subway cars.

The gods of NYC have mislead us. There are not four seasons, but two. There is the long, dark winter and the blazingly hot and humid summer. In between these two seasons are brief units of time that serve as a distraction to us mortals while things get shifted around in the heavens to make way for drastic weather changes. Spring is so elusive, so rare, practically extinct, that you must know exactly how to spot it. It’s a few brief days in May and June when it isn’t freezing cold or blazingly hot. It’s those days where you don’t need to touch your thermostat. It’s those days where you feel a slight chill in the morning but are warmed in mid-day sunlight and then chilly again in the evening. Whatever we’re experience right now is NOT spring. In an effort to escape this dreary season-between, I pretend to check flight prices for Turks and Caicos and Tulum.

Now let’s talk about Tulum. That’s in Mexico. I have never been to Tulum. Puerto-Vallarta is more my family’s style. But two beloved friends were vacationing in the popular posh Mexican paradise last month and sent me this email:

Subject: Hartwood, Tulum
“We just ate here and all of the NYT hype is really real.  Just went to google the recipe for this amazing salad we had there, and lo and behold, the Times has saved the day!
Should we try to attempt this sometime in the next week or so?”
Ladies, your wish is my command. The recipe calls for two different dressings. One, a light lime honey vinaigrette and the other, a sour-cream based crema. I was skeptical of this “two-dressing” approach because it seemed like a lot of work and ingredients. Well, I was wrong. The light lime vinaigrette perfectly coats the mint leaves and the crema just barely touches each bite, making it super light but also rich and creamy. I changed the recipe slightly and you’ll find my version below.

 

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Jicama, Mint and Orange Salad

Adapted from the New York Times.
Serves 4 as an appetizer
You will need:

1 large jicama (about the size of a grapefuirt) or use pre-sliced jicama spears
2 oranges
¼ cup pumpkin seeds (raw, unsalted if possible)
1 cup fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon lime juice
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey
Optional: bulk up the salad with an extra ½ cup of arugula or baby spinach per person

For the mint cream:
3 Tablespoons pumpkin seeds (raw, unsalted if possible)
1 1/2 cup mint leaves
¼  cup olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1teaspoon lime juice
1/3 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt

Method:

1.    Peel the jicama with a vegetable peeler. Then use the peeler to cut paper-thin slices of jicama until it becomes awkward. Then use a very sharp knife to cut small, thin rectangles.
2.    Peel the oranges with a knife so that the juicy flesh is exposed. Remove as much of the white pith as you can. Slice into ½ inch chunks. Place in a Tupperware with jicama slices and refrigerate for at least an hour or up to 4 hours.
3.    Toast the pumpkin seeds by heating a splash of oil in a non-stick pan. Add all the pepitas (1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons) to the pan and cook, over medium high heat for 3-5 minutes. The seeds should start to pop and smoke. I like mine nice and toasty.
4.    Make the mint cream: In a food-processor, combine pepitas, mint, oil, honey and lime juice. Blend at high speed until smooth. Add about ¼ cup water and blend in sour cream and salt.
5.    In a large bowl, whisk the lime juice, oil and honey together. Then add the mint leaves, jicama and oranges (plus additional greens if you want) and toss gently.
6.    To serve, spoon the mint crema onto the serving plate or bowl.  Place a small handful of dressed salad on top and garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds.

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