Our fab Food Editor takes us on a journey through food with this gorgeous summer salad…
Here’s a little “getting to now you” tidbit about me: I am the oldest of six children with two brothers and three sisters. It’s a big and growing family – my sisters have five children and another on the way – and we tend to live or travel all over the world. Two siblings currently live in China, one is in California, and two are in Atlanta where we grew up; my sisters have lived in Vietnam and Spain, and work has taken us all over the world. So when my sister in Atlanta had a new baby at the same time my other sister and her family were visiting from China, and my brother in China was connecting through Atlanta for a business trip to Mexico, I decided to fly down for a long weekend visit to Atlanta to catch up, hold babies, and cook big family meals for the for everyone.
The first night after we went to the big international farmers market in Atlanta (where we grew up, and which inspired out adventurous palates and lifestyles) I made a huge post of smoky paprika-scented rice with chicken, shrimp, and Spanish chorizo, I grilled red peppers and eggplant until they were slightly charred on the outside, sweet and creamy on the inside. The next day, my sister and her husband were talking about people they needed to see while they are here and a potential dinner out that night with friends when my brother-in-law said “Soooooo, Christine, were you thinking you might cook again tonight, because that might change our plans?” Hey, I can take a hint (and a compliment) so we went out and got pork chops and the ingredients for this great corn and black bean salad. While he grilled my cumin, chipotle, and lime marinated pork chops, I got all hands on deck to chop up the vegetables for a giant platter of salad.
This salad is great in the summer when fresh tomatoes and peppers are in season, but it’s also easy to put together with frozen corn all year round- the dressing really makes it work! Even without the pork chops we grilled, this salad makes a really satisfying and delicious meal on its own. You can add some salty crumbled feta or queso fresco for a richer vegetarian version. Throw on a few grilled shrimp or a little salmon if you like seafood and you’re in high cotton. The recipe is flexible, meaning that you don’t have to have every single ingredient for it to work. I think it offers a great balance of texture and flavor as written but make it work for what you have available. I’ve scaled this recipe down to a more everyday size, but it doubles really well for bigger dinners.
Sweet Corn and Black Bean Salad with Smoky Lime Vinaigrette
Serves 4 as a side, 2 as a main course
Time: about 15 minutes of light chopping duty
2 cups black beans (if you use canned, rinse and drain them)
2 cups corn kernels (fresh in season, frozen the rest of the year)
1 avocado, diced
1 red, yellow or orange sweet pepper, diced
1 small sweet red onion, diced
1 -2 ripe tomatoes, diced
1 jalapeno, deseeded and minced
1 roasted, skinned, and seeded poblano (optional)
Chives or green onions, minced
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon dried chipotle powder (or a teaspoon of adobo from canned chipotle)
pinch Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup oil
I like to sauté corn kernels in a little butter with a pinch of salt and chipotle until it just starts caramelizing to bring out the sweetness and pop of fresh corn. If you prefer, a quick blanch in boiling salted water works really well too.
Toss the black beans, corn, peppers, onions, and tomato together in a large bowl.
Combine the dressing ingredients in a glass jar with a tight lid and shake to emulsify. Taste to see if more salt is needed.
Drizzle the vegetables with the vinaigrette, add the avocado and chives and gently toss again. Taste to see if you need salt, add a few grinds of fresh black pepper.