One Ingredient, Two Ways: Jicama

By Marcus Samuelsson |

You know you’ve found an obscure vegetable-OK., it’s technically a legume-when it’s not in Microsoft Word’s vocabulary. While “jicama” might upset Word’s delicate spelling sensibilities, however, the name is a lot more appealing than the one the starchy veggie is otherwise known as: yam bean. Much like “Chilean sea bass,” the misnomer for “Patagonian Toothfish,” jicama sounds a lot more elegant-and appetizing-than a yam bean.

Native to Mexico, jicama is an underground tuber, whose root is an edible orb that has the texture of a cross between an apple and a potato. While the inside of the bulbous root is a beautiful white color-beware the rest of the jicama plant: its seeds contain a toxin called rotenone, which is used to poison fish or insects.

Because of its starchy, fairly mild flavor, jicama is usually paired with brighter flavors, such as chili, citrus, or fruit.

Jicama-Onion Turkey Burgers Recipe

I find that while it’s fairly easy to make beef burgers flavorful using a little Worcestershire sauce and some salt and pepper, turkey burgers are a lot trickier, and oftentimes can turn out bland and dry. The onions and the jicama in this recipe give the burger some moisture, and also a little bit of a bite. Taking about all of 10 minutes start-to-finish, these burgers are a great quick fix for a weeknight dinner.

Makes 2 burgers

Roasted Jicama and Carrot Salad With Yogurt Sauce Recipe

Jicama is probably best known for its crunch, but roasting the jicama features it as a more tender, sweeter version of itself that goes well with a cool garlic, mint, and yogurt sauce. This sauce would also be great as a dip for raw vegetables, or even on top of the turkey burgers, and is very refreshing for spring. You can serve or plate the salad as you like, but I think the look of whole carrots is very elegant.

If you can’t find any fresh mint, you can also add cucumbers to this sauce to make it more like a tzatziki. For a more substantial salad, you can add avocado or lettuce. If you can find pre-cut jicama, I highly recommend it-it’s not that much fun to peel!

Prep Details

Servings: Makes 2 serving


For Jicama-Onion Turkey Burgers

1/2 lb ground turkey

1/3 cup jicama, chopped

1/3 cup yellow or cippolini onions, chopped

1 tsp thyme

Salt and pepper, to taste

For Roasted Jicama and Carrot Salad With Yogurt Sauce

6 whole carrots

1 cup jicama, peeled and cut into 1/2 in. thick "sticks"

1 tbsp olive oil

2 tbsp honey

1/3 cup Greek strained yogurt

1 clove garlic, minced

6 fresh mint leaves, chopped


Photo: Suzanne Lehrer

To Make Burgers:

Combine the turkey, jicama, onions, thyme, salt and pepper, and mix with your hands (yup, get in there!) until evenly combined. Form two equally-sized patties, about a 1/2 in. thick. Grill burgers (on an electric grill if you're stuck in an apartment kitchen like me) for a few minutes on each side, taking care not to overcook.

To Make Salad:

Preheat oven to 400°. Coat the carrots and the jicama in olive and honey until well-coated and lay on a tin foil-lined baking sheet. Roast for an hour, until carrots and jicama are tender. For yogurt sauce, mix together yogurt (if yogurt is not pre-strained, strain for 20 minutes), garlic, and mint, adding salt as necessary. Spoon out yogurt sauce onto carrots and jicama and serve while vegetables are still warm.