Gentl & Hyers
When we inspected the plot where we would build the restaurant, we found a twenty-foot-long jicama vine growing wild. It was insane. The vine was so large it was taking over entire trees.
Jicama is starchy and crisp and completely refreshing. Imagine crossing a potato, an apple, and a cucumber without the seeds. Jicama is almost entirely water by weight, so when you shop for it, look for the firmest and heaviest. You want the skin to be tight, not wrinkled.
We garnish this salad with Prickly Pear Preserves, but you could use a handful of ripe watermelon cubes instead. And, yes, the mint crema recipe makes double what you’ll need, but we promise you’ll want to make this salad again.
Excerpted from Hartwood by Eric Werner and Mya Henry with Christine Mulke and Oliver Strand (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2015.
How to Suprême Citrus
This is a classic restaurant technique for trimming off all the peel and bitter pith and separating the sections from the membranes so that all that is left is fruit. The secret is to use a super-sharp knife, which will cut with little effort; if the knife is dull, you’ll need to apply some pressure, and that’s where you get into trouble.
First, slice off the top and bottom of the fruit so that you see two tiny circles of flesh. Then, slice off the skin, pith, and outer membrane, following the curvature of the fruit. Trim off any white patches left after you cut off all the peel.
Now you can either stop here and just cut the fruit into ½-inch slices, or you can follow this standard chef’s technique. Holding the fruit in one hand and the knife in the other, working over a small bowl, slice as close as possible to the membranes that separate the sections: Slice along one, then the other, and flick the loosened section into the bowl. When the entire fruit has been sectioned, squeeze the juice from the remaining membranes with your hand and reserve for another use.
Peel the jicama with a vegetable peeler or sharp paring knife and cut into ¼-inch-thick slices, about 2 inches by 1½ inches. Put in a bowl and add the orange suprêmes, mint, and salt, then add the vinaigrette and toss to coat.
Coat the bottom of each serving dish with a smear of the mint crema and pile the salad on top. Drizzle with the prickly pear preserves, if using, and sprinkle the pepitas and sunflower seeds over the top.
Combine the pepitas, mint, olive oil, honey, and lime juice in a blender and blend on high speed until smooth and emulsified. Slowly add the water and blend until emulsified, about 30 seconds, then add the sour cream and salt and blend for another 10 seconds. The crema should be as thick as aioli. Season to taste if necessary. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to use.
Whisk all the ingredients in a small bowl until emulsified, then taste—everything should be in balance: the acid of the lime, the sweetness of the honey, the salinity of the salt. If anything is too faint, add more of whatever is missing. The vinaigrette will keep for up to a week in the refrigerator; whisk again before serving to re-emulsify it.
Remove the skin from the prickly pears. Put the flesh in a bowl and break it apart with a spoon until liquefied.
Combine the prickly pear, ginger, vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in a medium-size saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium heat and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half and syrupy, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool, then strain out the seeds and ginger.