I found the inspiration for this elegant, inclusive hors d'oeuvres at the gala for the International Association of Culinary Professionals this week. At the party after the awards ceremony, we were offered dime-sized rounds of jicama with a dab of dark, intense jam, perhaps pomegranate jam. The slightly sweet crunch of the jicama contrasted with the tartness of the jam to create a explosion of flavor and texture. Yet the beautiful tiny bites had no meat, dairy, eggs, or gluten so nearly everyone could enjoy them.
In this recipe, I cut the jimaca into stars about the size of quarters and topped them with pureed carrot and ginger, then crowned each one fresh fennel. I'll use the frames left around single stars to decorate servings of mashed sweet potatoes and chop the rest to tucked into tacos.
Jicama Stars with Carrot-Ginger Puree and Fennel
Active time: 20 minutes. Total time: 20 minutes. About 60 stars and 20 reverse-star garnishes.
- 1 jicama
- 2 carrots (about 80 grams)
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
- 1 tablespoon coconut drink, apple juice, or water
- pinch salt
- 2 fresh fennel leaves
- Peel carrots, cut into one-inch sections, and microwave in a covered, microwave-safe container on high until very tender, about four minutes.
- Peel ginger and slice crosswise into thin slices. Set up a food processor with the stainless steel blade. Turn on food processor, then drop in ginger slices. Turn food processor off, then add carrots, coconut drink, and salt. Pulse a few times, scraping down the sides, until mixture is a fairly smooth puree.
- Peel jicama, slice in half, then slice crosswise into thin sheets about 1/8th inch thick. Use a small cookie cutter to cut out stars or other shapes. Center your cookie cutter on smaller slices so the remaining outline can be used as a garnish. On larger slices, cut out as many shapes as you can. Arrange stars on serving tray. Save remaining jicama for other uses.
- Put carrot puree into a small plastic bag. Cut a small hole in one bottom corner of the bag. Squeeze a dab of carrot puree through the hole onto each jicama star.
- Remove fennel leaves from stems, then cut stems into lengths shorter than the stars are wide. Gently press one stem section or tiny spray of fennel leaves into each mound of carrot puree.
- Serve at once or keep chilled for a few hours.
- If you have a pastry bag with a small tip, use it instead of a plastic bag for the carrot puree.
- Pour boiling water over ginger peels and fennel scraps and steep for five minutes for a refreshing tea.
- About jicama: it's the tuberous root of the yam bean vine (Pachyrhizus erosus), which is in the bean family. It is crisp like an apple or water chestnut and slightly sweet. A cup of sliced jicama (130 grams) has only 46 calories and provides about 40% of the daily requirement for vitamin C.
- Store unpeeled jicamas in a dry, room temperature spot, where they will keep for a month or two. Do not refrigerate.