Thursday, May 15, 2014

Root Vegetable Study

At the kids' elementary school, the first grade class theme was How Food gets to the Table. The curriculum was very comprehensive*.

Going out to a local vegetable farm for a day? Perfect.
Creating a replica farmers' market in the classroom?  Makes total sense.
Field trip to Whole Foods? Count me in.
Making farm vehicles out of wood? OK, I can see that.

Milk Truck Artwork

An entire unit** on root vegetables?

My kid got jicama.  He liked it because it started with a "J".

Jicama artwork

Don't get me wrong. The artwork was fantastic. But how much time can you spend learning about jicama?

Whole jicama

Turns out that teacher*** was a savant on the topic, and I was completely wrong to doubt her.
Jicama is incredible:

Cut into sticks, throw in a little lime juice, mint and chile, and oh, baby! Fresh, clean, crisp, tart, juicy, a little sweet, a little spicy...just wow. Almost no calories and great for you, too? Double wow!

Minted Jicama Sticks

Root vegetables that start with "J". Seriously phenomenal.

Minted Jicama Sticks

by Sharon Graves
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: none
  • a whole jicama
  • a few limes and/or lemons
  • a handful of mint
  • red chile pepper flakes, optional

Use a large, sharp knife to cut away the tough outer peel and the fibrous portion of the jicama just beneath it. The skin is literally toxic. As in poison. There's yet another fun fact about jicama for you.

Slice off the top and bottom to form flat sides, then cut across, horizontally and then vertically, to form thick rectangular sticks, about half an inch across. They should look like french fries ready for the fryer.

Transfer cut up jicama to a large bowl, and squeeze plenty of lime/lemon juice over the top. Depending on the size of your jicama and limes, this could be anywhere from one to three. Chop the mint very finely, add to the bowl, and toss everything together. If you like your snack a little spicy, add a sprinkling of red chile flakes.  

You can power these down right away, or store in a covered container in the fridge for a few days.   If you do use the chile flakes, just be aware that the sticks will get spicier as time goes on.  Ahh!  Also great with the jicama shredded instead of cut into sticks, as a refreshing alternative side dish.

Minted Jicama Sticks

* The trendy farm-to-table movement in foodie land? Yesterday's news in Group 2. Math skills? Not so much.
** They spent several weeks on this. Weeks!!!
*** This root vegetable visionary and hedgehog whisperer is retiring in June after 18 years of herding six and seven year olds and their skeptical parents. Thank you, Sally!

Group 2 at Little Stellas
The class at their restaurant, the delicious culmination of the study. In an ironic twist, there were no root vegetables of any kind on the menu.


  1. There is a mint shortage in Milwaukee so I am going to have to try this without the mint. Milwaukee frequently has shortages of items that are used in making alcoholic beverages.

    1. Serves you right for living in a beer town. Fortunately, mint is basically a weed, so consider growing your own. You may find yourself with a lot of new friends around cocktail hour!