Everything on Thyme

I was short on time for this assignment, but I did have on hand a new bottle of thyme, and having liked this spice from a previous class experience, decided to use it as much as possible.

I bought jicama, chayote [chi-OH-tay] squash, endive, and French golden beets at Byerly’s in Roseville, thinking that I’d select two of these for the assignment.  At some point in my life I’ve prepared beets, but the first three are foreign to me — except maybe one of my kids brought home jicama sticks from school, once.

I thought I’d try roasted, sauteed, and more-or-less raw versions of these vegetables.

Roasted Endive

There are a number of published recipes online — here’s one.  It’s pretty simple; cut each endive head in half length-wise, brush with olive oil, sprinkle on spices [thyme, salt, & pepper], and roast in the oven on an oiled cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 425 degrees F.  I took the advice of one online respondent, reduced this to 350 degrees, and watched it fairly closely.  Even at reduced temperature the endive was turning brown and quite tender at 20 minutes.

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I liked this.  Raw endive has a noticeable but pleasant-enough bitter taste.  Roasting and seasoning reduces this.

Roasted Jicama, Roasted Chayote Squash

If you look online, you see that jicama and chayote are known as mild-flavored generalists that take on the flavors of those around them.  Roasting instructions are so varied that I decided to wing it.

I didn’t know what to expect from the chayote — is it a summer or winter squash?  When
you slice it open, you see that it’s neither.   It’s not hollow and there are no seeds to speak of.  The appearance is somewhat like a pear, or even an unripe avocado with no pit.

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I cubed the jicama and sliced the chayotte.  Some recipes say to “drizzle” on the oil.  I don’t know how to drizzle; it sounds messy.  I  brushed them with oil, sprinkled on thyme, salt, and pepper, and but them in the oven for 20 minutes at 425 degrees F.

20 minutes wasn’t long enough for either vegetable.  At thirty minutes they looked better.  I can’t say they tasted any better.

Roasted jicama the way I prepared it is edible in pinch, but very woody and chewy.  Not really crunchy.  The roasted chayote could be an acquired taste — sort of a zucchini flavor that would be pleasant with a bit more work, but to me it was more like under-done potato slices.
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Sautes

I didn’t look up any recipes for this, as I think a saute (or “low heat pan-frying” as I should define it) is pretty basic.  Being enamored with thyme, I continued to use it.

Jicama, French Golden Beets, and Vidalia Onions

I put about 3 tbsp. olive oil in a large pan [a bigger pan is is better — I learned that last week], cubed some jicama, diced an onion using classroom cutting technique, and sliced a big beet fairly thickly, as I’d seen some online recipes use big hunks of beet.  The onions and jicama are not distinguishable in the photo, but they’re both there.

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I used thyme, salt, pepper, and some garlic powder.  Yes, real minced garlic would have been better but I was low on time.    I used a cover with this saute since I wanted to make sure that the thick beet slices got a lot of heat above and below.  The onions of course went translucent first and I kept on cooking until the beets were tender.  15 minutes or so.

This looks great and a sample tasted great.  The beets dominate the flavor.  They’re sweet, the jicama is sweet, and so are the vidalia onions.  My daughter ate this with brown rice and spiced it up with sriracha sauce.  She loved it.  I’ll make a meal of it tomorrow.

Sauteed Endive and Chayote

Why not?  I’m experimenting, right?  I used the same approach as above but without the garlic powder.

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I sauteed the chayote for about ten minutes first with thyme, salt, and pepper, then added the endive thinking it would cook quickly.  Five more minutes and it was translucent.

The  endive was excellent when eaten by itself, much like the roasted form.  Sauteeing takes an edge off of the bitterness.  The chayote, I’m afraid, still tasted like under-done potato, even though thoroughly cooked.   Eating the two sauteed veggies together tasted like the chayote.  Enough said there.
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Raw

As a really healthy plate, I made a salad, sort of a coarse slaw of  beets, endive, and jicama matchsticks.  I couldn’t stomach the thought of raw chayote.

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I used a simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing on the slaw alongside cottage cheese and some raspberries.  I thought that this would be boring, but it was a very nice surprise.  The sweetness of the beets and jicama, the relatively strong bitterness of the raw endive, and the whatever — saltiness? — of the cottage cheese all went together very well, and the crunch of the vegetables worked as well.
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Some conclusions

Winners

The sauteed beets, jicama, and onions is very, very good and I’ll remember this.

In second place is the simple raw combination of jicama, endive, and beets.

The roasted and sauteed endives were fine, but it turns out I like the raw endive better.

Losers

Well, anything involving the chayote.  I’m not sure how you’re supposed prepare or serve this vegetable.   Thyme certainly isn’t the way to season this, unless you like under-done potatoes.

Roasted jicama has some potential, but I didn’t hit the mark.   Maybe at a lower heat than 425 degrees, and not with thyme.  Probably something hot, like cayenne pepper.

One thought on “Everything on Thyme

  1. RobinS says:

    I love how adventurous this class was with this assignment! Prolific with the preparations, too!
    I’ve heard that chayote is best when it’s been roasted in olive oil and salt in a high-heat oven (>400 degrees F) – as it will bring out the natural sweetness of the vegetable.
    As you discovered, even though you really like the flavor of thyme, it doesn’t pair well with everything. As a matter of fact, I doubt that they use much thyme in Latin American cuisine which is where chayote is mostly grown and eaten (oregano, bay leaves, citrus, cumin, etc.) Same with jicama.
    Thanks for sharing all these wonderful preparations!

    Like

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