Ingredients (serves eight)
3 seedless oranges
5tbs fresh lime juice
2½tbs fresh orange juice
½tsp salt, heaped
60ml olive oil
4 large beets, baked or boiled and julienned
1 medium (about 450g) jícama
10 romaine lettuce leaves, cut crosswise into 12mm slices
150g roasted, salted peanuts
For garnish 1 section of sugar cane, about 75-100cm, peeled and cut lengthwise into slivers
1tbs coloured candy cake decorations (called grajeas in Mexico)
Note: jícama is leguminous Mexican tuber with a sweet, bland flavour and juicy, ivory flesh similar in texture to water chestnuts.
Zest the rind from one of the oranges; finely chop. Mix together the chopped orange zest, lime juice, orange juice, salt, sugar and olive oil in a large bowl. Pour over the beets and let stand for one hour.
Peel away the brown skin and fibrous exterior layer of the jícama (a small knife works best for this), then cut in half. Lay each half on its cut side and slice 6mm thick; cut slices into small sticks.
Cut stem and blossom ends off oranges, stand on cutting board and, working close to the flesh, cut away the rind and all white pith. Cut between each white membrane to remove the segments.
Just before serving, add the jícama and most of the orange segments (save a few for garnish) to the beets; taste the mixture and season it with additional salt, if the salad seems to need it.
Lay out the lettuce on a serving platter. Scoop the salad into the centre, then sprinkle with the peanuts and reserved orange segments. Garnish with the sugar cane and candies.
Variations and improvisations
Summer beet and jícama salad: replace the orange segments with sliced plums and, if you like, replace all or part of the jícama with apple.
Sprinkle the salad with toasted almonds and, unless it's a special occasion, skip the candy sprinkles.