I had a jicama that I planned to add to my lunch salads for the week, but I forgot to chop it along with the other vegetables. It squatted in the crisper like a sweet, drab little duck while I fretted about my finals and ordered a lot of takeout.
Eat me! Eat me!
One day, when making stir fry, I decided to rescue this forlorn Mexican yam with a recipe for “jicama rice”. I buzzed the root in my food processor, squeezed out the moisture, and dehydrated it in a 175-degree oven for a few hours. But as soon as I tasted it, I knew it was way too sweet. No vegetable substitute can convince this Japanese girl that it’s rice.
So it sat in the fridge again until the time came to procrastinate on some more work. Stress and erratic sleep had me craving junk food. I was about ready to open all the days on my Advent calendar (hey, Jews can have them too!) and eat the whole damn month in chocolate.
Then, inspiration struck! No, not about the paper I was supposed to be writing. About dessert. Maybe that sweet jicama could satisfy my slavering mind-belly without blowing my sugar intake sky-high. Google was surprisingly unhelpful on jicama desserts – or maybe I’m just the only loon out there trying to turn these fibrous lumpy tubers into sweets – so I had to get creative.
I thought of all the vegetables that traditionally become desserts. Carrots make carrot cake and gajar halwa. Potatoes make kugel and sometimes doughnuts. There’s sweet potato pudding and zucchini bread and parsnip cakes. Warm wintry spices, like those in carrot cake and sweet potato pudding, sounded great to me. But I wanted to add bulk without adding flour, which sent me on to flan, custard, and crème brûlée.
I finally landed on baked ricotta, because it sounded like a crustless Italian cheesecake. I added spices and ground nuts, and gilded the lily with an apricot glaze. With a bit of Stevia to enhance the sweetness, this turns out to be a delicious, comforting dish, mysteriously reminiscent of bread pudding. It’s low in sugar, with a decent hit of protein, and you can easily make it lower in fat if that’s how you get your kicks.
With a plate of this, my paper seemed much more approachable. Give it a try and let me know if this inspires you too!
Ingredients (serves 8+)
1 large jicama
1 1/2 cups ricotta (I used whole milk but skim will probably do)
Stevia, to taste (I used about 2 tbsp)
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cardamom
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 tbsp. low-sugar preserves (I used apricot)
1/4 cup coconut, unsweetened
1/3 cup ground walnuts (or other nuts)
- Peel jicama and grate or shred. I used a food processor. Squeeze in a colander to get the moisture out. If desired, stick it in a dehydrator or a 175-degree oven to get it even dryer – this will probably reduce your baking time later. Can be done ahead of time.
- Preheat your oven to 375. Put a shallow oven-safe pan of water on the bottom rack.
- Whisk jicama, ricotta, Stevia, eggs, spices, vanilla, and nuts until well combined. Pour mixture into a greased pie dish and bake for ~40-45 minutes or until the top firms up a bit.
- Gently spread the preserves on top. Return to the oven for an additional 20-30 minutes or until nicely glazed and springy to the touch.
- Let cool. Run a knife gently around the sides, slice, and eat with gusto. It is good both warm and chilled.
Nutrition facts per serving (for 8 servings):
Carbohydrates: 10 g
Fats: 15 g
Protein: 9.5 g
Sodium: 68 g
Sugar: < 4 g
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