Written by the fabulous Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about all things Vegetarian.
You may have guessed by now, longtime CHG-VM readers, that I am most inspired unfamiliar ingredients. I get distracted by anything the least bit unexpected at the market. I’m like the Homer Simpson of home ec. Oooh, shiny.
So on recent trips to the farmer’s market and neighborhood grocery, despite list/menu plan in hand, I’ve come home with game changers. That’s the joy of the farmer’s market - you never know exactly what you’ll find. Callaloo was a perfect example. Then it was papalo, a Mexican herb.
A few weeks ago, there was a new stand at the market, staffed by a Mexican woman selling the usual carrots, celery, and potatoes, but also poblano peppers, habaneros, and herbs. The papalo, a robust green herb, caught my eye. The woman told me it’s kind of like cilantro and is particularly good on sandwiches and in soups.
How to describe the taste? Well, papalo has a strong, fresh smell and flavor, reminiscent of lemon and tarragon. Does that make sense at all? Just know that it’s strong, you don’t need much, and hey, look over there.
Of course, it wasn’t soup weather at the time (though it has been the last couple of rainy East Coast days). So I decided to use it in a jicama-summer squash slaw recipe I found in Jay Solomon’s The Global Vegetarian, a newly resurrected staple in my kitchen. The recipe called for cilantro, so I went for the easy substitution.
Sweet and spicy, the papalo took the crunchy summer slaw to a place I’d call...Interesting. It was on my Lunch Buddy menu and I almost didn’t serve it to JBF, it was so odd tasting to me. But caveat in place, I sent it along, and she loved it. I took a little longer to get there.
Papalo is pungent and takes some getting used to. I had made a big batch, and by the third serving it had grown on me. What I didn’t know then that I know now: a cilantro:papalo substitution should come in at around 3:1.
That said, the jicama, chipotle peppers, and squash made for a satisfying side salad. Tossed over greens or just on the side of a sandwich, this zippy little number would be a refreshing change of pace at what summer picnics remain.
While it can be time-consuming to julienne a bunch of veggies for slaw, I find it relaxing and therapeutic. (I also enjoy untangling the matted yarn balls that collect in my knitting stash, so there’s that.) A food processor or coarse grater will cut down your prep time enormously.
If you can’t find papalo where you are, put back in the cilantro (or parsley, if you have that sad, sad soap thing) and you won’t be sorry. But if you do, allow yourself to be distracted by the deep green and pretty scalloped leaves. It’s a taste worth acquiring.
(Additional photography by flickr user h-bomb.)
If you dig this recipe, you may also dig:
- BBQ Slaw, Y’all
- I Can Maike That: Daikon or Jicama and Mango Salad
- A Relaxing Evening with Kale and Root Vegetable Salad
Sweet and Spicy Jicama Slaw
adapted from The Global Vegetarian by Jay Solomon
1/2 large jicama (about 2 cups), julienned
1 medium yellow squash, julienned
1 large carrot, grated
2 chipotle peppers (canned in adobo sauce), minced
1 lime, juiced
1 tbsp canola oil
3 tbsp cilantro or 1 tbsp papalo
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1) Combine all the julienned veggies in a large mixing bowl.
2) Add lime juice, oil, herbs, and spices, and toss.
3) Stick it in the fridge for 30 minutes to combine flavors.
4) Serve this sassy little slaw over salad greens or as a side dish at your end-of-summer barbecue.
Approximate Calories, Fat, Fiber, Protein, and Price per Serving
48.1 calories, 3.5g fat, 5.4g fiber, 2.3g protein, $.97
1/2 large jicama: 98 calories, 0g fat, 12g fiber, 2g protein, $1.10
1 large carrot: 31.25 calories, 0g fat, 2.5g fiber, 1.25g protein, $0.20
1 medium yellow squash: 31 calories, 0g fat, 2g fiber, 2g protein, $0.75
2 chipotle peppers: 7 calories, 0g fat, 1g fiber, 0g protein, $0.36
1 lime: 9.5 calories, 0.03g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.10
1 tbsp canola oil: 120 calories, 14g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.08
2 tbsp p√°palo: 2.75 calories, 0g fat, 0g fiber, 0g protein, $0.06
1/2 tsp cumin: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $0.02
1 tsp salt: negligible calories, fat, fiber, and protein, $0.02
escarole salad greens: 32 calories, 0g fat, 4g fiber, 4g protein, $1.22
Totals: 192.25 calories, 14g fat, 21.5g fiber, 9.25g protein, $3.91
Per serving (totals/4): 48.1 calories, 3.5g fat, 5.4g fiber, 2.3g protein, $.97