The yacón is an under ground tuberous root vegetable originally grown in South America in the Andes. It looks something like a large potato, grows like a Jerusalem artichoke, is crisp and sweetish in taste and is said to be a cross between early apples, watermelon and a touch of celery plus a little bit of pear. The texture is very similar to that of water chestnuts. ‘Yacón’ means water root or Peruvian ground apple and was originally used as something thirst quenching by Inca travellers in the Andes as they descended towards the Amazon.
Until the early 2000’s it was only grown in South American but now is grown in Japan, Australia, USA, UK, China and South Korea. One of Areks organic vegetable growers has been trying them out. I understand that they can be eaten raw (after peeling) or cooked. Once peeled they discolour quickly so its best to put them in a bowl of water to which you’ve added juice of a lemon before using them in a salad or if you don’t want to eat it quickly. It can be used in a dressed salad as it absorbs flavours of dressing or in a fruit salad with fruits such as fresh pineapple, pawpaw and mango. I haven’t yet tried it cooked but I understand its good stir-fried, roasted or steamed.
So, thinking of classic French salads I decided to replace the pear with yacón in the following version. You don’t need to be too precise about quantities. This salad is a great start to a meal or makes an easy lunch with some good bread (we had Turkish flat bread from Tahsin)
1 yacón, peeled and thinly sliced
French blue cheese eg Roquefort, St Agur, Fourme d’Ambert Walnuts (toasted), chopped or hazelnuts
Green Salad Leaves eg Rocket Lemon Juice
Dressing: 3 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
juice of 1/2 to 1 lemon
salt and pepper
Peel and slice the yacón. Keep the slices in a bowl of water to which you’ve added the juice of a lemon.
Mix the salad dressing ingredients well
Place the salad greens on a platter. Drain and dry the yacón slices and scatter them over the greens.
Break up the blue cheese into small pieces and scatter over the yacón and greens.
Drizzle with some of the dressing and then scatter over the chopped toasted nuts.
Enjoy with fresh bread!
Next time I’m going to make a salad using the greens, sliced chicken breast, cooked green beans, sliced celery with chopped toasted nuts and a few raisins.