Jicama Radish Watermelon Salad: Mexican-Inspired Dinner Party - Part 2

Part 2 of my Mexican-Inspired Party recipes from an event I catered a few weekends ago.  This one is a Jicama Salad with Radish and Watermelon topped with Cotija Cheese.  I wanted to do a play on Mexican Vegetables - which typically aren't such a mainstay of the Tex-Mex or Taqueria style foods that we have been finding on menus of late.  One finds likes of re-fried beans, fry breads, nachos, tortillas. There is also the occasional radish and lime slices, along with lettuce, some tomatoes and onions.  I've yet to be served a full salad or vegetable medley at the places we've dined here in the East Coast, or even out in the Southwest where the real and great Mexican foods are to be found.

As I lay no true claims to fully understanding the nuances and simplicities of Mexican-influenced cookery, I went on my instincts, cookbooks and research.  Jicama is a tuber, like a potato. Crunchy, starchy, slightly sweet - it tastes like a cross between a Russet potato and a water chestnut.  It works well raw in salads and is even tastier fried like a French Fry.  Very versatile  and a little goes a long way.  Radishes add the bite and colour; watermelon is the sweet note. I pickled the red onions to tame the bite and added the Cotija cheese for its saltiness. 
A little bit of each vegetable goes a long way.  If you use only a handful of each item it will make a substantial salad.  Serve it over iceberg lettuce wedges, along with some extra limes.  It can be made ahead and will hold well for a day or two - but add the cheese at serving.

Jicama Radish and Watermelon Salad Ingredients:
  • 1 Small Red Onion (1 cup) - thinly sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons Red or White Wine Vinegar or 2 Tablespoons Lime Juice
  • 1 Small Jicama - (about a cup's worth) peeled and Julienne
  • 4 Radishes - tops removed and cut into thin slices
  • 2 Cups Seedless Watermelon - Diced
  • 1 Lime - Zest and Juice (about 1/4 cup juice)
  • 1/4 Cup Cilantro - Rough Chop
  • Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper - to taste
  • 1/2 Cup Cojita Cheese - Crumbled (a Hard, Dry Mexican Cheese. If you
  • cannot find it, substitute a dry Queso Fresco, which is similar to Feta cheese)
  • Olive Oil for Drizzling (preferably a Spanish Olive Oil!)
Directions:
  1. Peel, core and slice the red onions and put into a non-reactive bowl, then sprinkle with a pinch of salt and the 2 tablespoons of vinegar or lime juice. Macerate for 10 to 15 minutes and set aside. This will help “tame” the acidic bite of the raw onion! 
  2. Peel and slice the jicama and place into a mixing bowl.
  3. Slice the radish and dice the watermelon, adding both to the bowl with the jicama.
  4. Add in the zest and juice of the lime and cilantro, tossing to combine.
  5. Season the salad to taste with a pinch of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  6. When ready to serve, remove the red onions from the vinegar, adding to the jicama salad (discard the vinegar). Crumble the Cotija cheese over the salad and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Serve immediately.

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