One of the mainstays for the party table is a veggie tray. Nearly all veggie trays have carrots and celery, maybe grape tomatoes, broccoli or cauliflower, possibly mushrooms. One of my favorite things to add is jicama (pronounced /hee-kah-mah/). Jicama is a tuber with a tough, papery skin that you peel off (I usually use a knife rather than a vegetable peeler because the skin is fairly thick) to reveal the white, crunchy interior. The flesh of the jicama is something like a raw potato or green pear in texture and has a very slightly sweet taste, but is generally neutral. As such, it makes a great carrier for dips from Ranch to salsa. I also use them in stir-fry dishes, especially when I don’t have any water chestnuts on hand but want a little extra crunch. The jicama is also a common feature in my salads, when I can find good ones.
You will typically find jicama in the produce section near the potatoes, yams, turnips, and rutabagas or sometimes in a specialty produce section with the Mexican goods. You want to look for one with a firm, smooth skin, not shriveled. Unfortunately many produce workers in this part of the country are not familiar with them and have no idea when they should be removed from the shelf until they are obviously moldy and gross, so it’s hard to find good ones consistently. They should be stored in a cool, dry place, but not the refrigerator until cut. Because the jicama is mostly water, it does dry out easily if sliced bits are left out. It can easily be cut for a veggie tray and refrigerated, covered, for a day before serving.