August seems like such a transitional month for everyone. KIds are outside trying to burn through their last vacation days, acting like it’s the end of the world. I’ve been bumped into by at least 57 moms at the store, all face-down in their brightly colored school-supply lists, anxiously searching for the exact right kind of colored pencils. Everyone is waiting to start something. I feel like no one really enjoys August; we all seem far too busy either waiting for fall to arrive (hey!) or lamenting the inevitable end of summer.
I don’t know about all of you, but I’m food-restless. In august, I find myself hoarding the last of the summer fruits like squirrels hoard acorns, greedily chopping them up and eating them in their natural state as opposed to baking them into something. But fall has yet to begin, so I’m not feeling all turnipy just yet either. So for those of you out there who, like me, are just sort of holding your breath not knowing what to make, or what to do, I give you this slaw; a slaw which will assist in the transition from summer to fall.
it’s neither one, nor the other. the two main components – jicama and carrots – have long seasons and both exist for most of us year round. Go for the organic variety, please, if you can, aside from being better for you, you’ll get better flavor out if your final product. This is such a simple, raw preparation that you want to be sure to use best-quality ingredients here. Cilantro and jalapeno can also be found virtually any time of year. The dressing is nothing to whip up, and can be easily suited to your individual tastes. Truly, if I have learned anything from this Farmers’ Market Monday series, it’s that most from-scratch dressings are awesome. They take mere minutes to make, and you can tailor them to virtually any palate. You can’t screw up a homemade dressing, period. They can always be fixed.
Now, about that picture: did i go to the trouble to matchstick-chop all those carrots and jicama? Absolutely no, I did not. My knife skills rival the knife skills of a baby kitten; I would be missing fingers. Rather, I choose not to make things difficult on myself, and a little while back, I purchased this baby.
What is that? well, it’s one of a set of three vegetable peelers I bought at Williams Sonoma – three peelers which all do different things. There was a regular one, one which makes minuscule ridges in things (very Martha) and this one; the matchsticker. I don’t actually think it’s called that (it’s not, i just checked; it’s the “julienne” peeler), but that’s what it does. It’s fabulous. And before you go on bemoaning how expensive Williams Sonoma is, I’ll have you know I paid under $15 for all three. Go now, and buy yourself the set; Oxo makes it. here they are. you’ll never lose fingers again.
This made my salad chopping easy. The original recipe said to “grate the jicama and the carrots with a box grater,” but I’m sorry; that’s a total lie. If you saw the photo in the book (incidentally, by Williams Sonoma), you would know that they never touched either vegetable with a box grater; there is NO WAY this turns out the same texture. So I would use the matchsticker, or take the time to chop this using a good knife and your best patience face.
This slaw is fantastic with barbecue, which many of us will be doing well into October. I personally love barbecue this time of year; something about cooking outdoors when it’s not 150 degrees out makes me much happier than wondering if someone is sweating into my dinner. The smoky flavor of grilled meats or fish as the weather changes is really something special; unlike summer fruits, you get to say a longer goodbye to outdoor cooking. This slaw could accompany any sort of grilled thing, from fish, to burgers, to chicken. Serve it atop lettuce, serve it right on a bun filled with pulled pork – it goes with anything, and makes for a fresh, slightly citrus counterpart to heavier meats.
So try it, and enjoy the transition. Sit outside and grill something. Look forward to fall or backward on how fun your summer was. Since this takes about 5 minutes to make, you’ll have plenty of time. And feel free to ballpark both the jicama and the carrots in terms of how much: the ratio of carrot to jicama is up to you.
Adapted from Williams Sonoma’s Bride & Groom Entertaining: Recipes for Celebrating Together.
Jicama + Carrot Slaw
- 1 1/4 pound jicama, peeled
- 1 pound carrots, peeled
- 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
- 1 jalapeno chili, very finely diced*
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 1/4 cup sour cream (or substitute a good, thick plain greek yogurt if you’re not into sour cream)
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 3/4 teaspoon chili powder
- sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- leaves from romaine or bibb lettuce (for serving, and it’s optional)
This slaw is best served an hour or so after you put your ingredients together. It allows the flavors to meld together but nothing gets soggy or soft. Try to time this out accordingly; no one likes a soggy slaw. If you need to, matchstick everything and make your dressing separately, then put together and start the clock. Don’t do this too far ahead, but prepping the morning of wouldn’t be horrible. Just make sure everything is tightly covered.
*this salad packs some heat, but not a crazy amount. Feel free to reduce the jalapeno to half of one if you’d like.
Chop your jicama and carrots into matchsticks using either a knife (this will take time), that fun matchstick peeler I told you about (the julienne peeler), or use the largest holes of a box grater, up to you. The length, if using a knife or the peeler, is up to you: I went with about a 2-inch length on both. Using the measurements above, you should end up with about 3 cups of each.
Finely chip the cilantro leaves and place in a large bowl. Add your diced jalapeno, lime juice, sour cream (or greek yogurt), mayonnaise, salt, and chili powder and whisk together until all ingredients are incorporated. The dressing will be on the thick side of things: that’s okay, because both the carrot and the jicama will lend a little liquid to the mix as they sit together.
Add the jicama and carrots and toss well to coat evenly with the dressing. Cover tightly and refrigerate for about an hour to allow flavors to blend. Keep in refrigerator until serving. When ready, remove the slaw, toss again to distribute the dressing, and season to taste with salt and ground pepper. Serve on lettuce leaves (optional) or it would be delightful, say, on top of a pulled pork or chicken sandwich.
Serves 8-10 as a side dish.