Jicama and Toasted Butternut Squash Seed Salad

Mijita is a taco bar in the Ferry Building on San Francisco’s waterfront, in the shadow of the Bay Bridge, just off the Embarcadero. Colorful, sunny and friendly, this taco bar offers the real thing. There’s a comal in the window (handmade tortillas), a few jars of Agua fresca (fresh juices) on ice in the counter and a crisp “ensalada de jicama” on the menu.

We tried the fish taco (pescado), the pork taco (carnitas) the breakfast standard (chillaquillas) and the jicama salad. All garnished with wonderful flavors, including lime (pescado) pickled carrots and delicious red beans topped with queso fresco (chillaquillas).

The dish that turned my head was the jicama salad. I liked it because it was crisp and cold, tangy and crunchy. But it was missing a little something and that’s where I’ll take it at the Little Kitchen.

Last summer we created a shrimp and scallop kabob that was marinated in an agave and jalepeno marinade. It was served over a cool salad of jicama, green papaya and cucumber all shredded with the Japanese mandoline. It was a big hit but tough on the salad station. The prep for the salad had to be done prior to opening, had a one night shelf life and was hell to prepare to order when the salad sold out before the shellfish.

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the salad:

1 quart baby arugula
1 large red grapefruit (sections)
1.5 cups sliced jicama (match stick size)
1/4 cup toasted seeds
2 small avocados (sliced to fan out over the salad)

For the dressing:

2 tablespoons minced ginger
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons minced jalapeno
2 tablespoons minced mint
4 tablespoons minced red onion
4 tablespoons minced pineapple
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3/4 cup vegetable oil
salt to taste

This new Mijita inspired salad should work to keep the recipe moving forward and help the salad man during service as it won’t require shredding 3 different items on the fly. It will also be an extension of the marinade. For the dressing I’ve suggested making extra, so the marinade can be a by-product of the vinaigrette. Once the dressing has been made, remove 1/2 of the solids from the bottom of the jar with a slotted spoon and run in a blender on high with 1/2 cup of agave nectar and 1/4 cup vegetable oil until smooth. Then pour the marinade over the shrimp and scallop skewers. Place on a hot grill or grill pan after the shellfish has been in the marinade for 20 minutes.

It’s important to point out that the pumpkin seeds at Mijita were great in the salad. At the Little Kitchen we’ll substitute them with toasted butternut squash seeds tossed in ground cumin, white pepper, and salt.

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