If you are tailgating one fall weekend, here’s a sensational salad to bring joy to your eyes. Especially if your team is bringing tears to those eyes. [I live in New York, the Giants and 1-2, and it looks downhill to December!].
The secret to this salad is its barrage of the flavors we all seem to love: corn, onion, pepper, lemon, cilantro, tomatoes and black beans. Yes, you’ve had them all before, but this combination has a great balance of ingredients and an abundance of flavor. It’s an ideal side companion for burgers, chicken, or steaks. This recipe says it serves 8, but you may find your dinner companions double dipping their spoons for more.
This dish is easily prepared ahead of time and brought to your table or your tailgate whenever you are ready. Try this with the end of summer corn, the ears that have soaked in all that sun and now are filled with sugary sweetness.
Black Bean, Corn and Tomato Salad
Yield: 8 servings:
- 3 ears fresh corn, shucked (about 3 cups)
- 4 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced small
- ½ red onion, diced small
- 3 scallions, finely chopped
- 1 jalapeno pepper, ribs and seeds removed, finely chopped
- 1 ½ teaspoons chipotle peppers, diced small
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons. fresh cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup goat cheese, crumbled for garnish
- 1 avocado, diced small, for garnish
Rinse and drain the black beans, place in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.
Working over a second mixing bowl, shuck the corn ears collecting, the kernels and discarding the ears.
Place a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the butter, when melted, add the corn kernels and sauté until crisp-tender, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. When cooled, add the corn to the beans.
To the bean mixture, add the diced tomatoes, red onion, scallions, jalapeno, chipotle peppers, lemon juice and olive oil; stir well to incorporate. Season to taste with salt and pepper and mix in the cilantro.
To serve, divide among serving plates, garnish with diced avocado and crumbled goat cheese.
Source: Cooking by the Book, 2005
Guacamole has become a year round food that many of us eat several times a week. The “standard” restaurant or store guacamole can be okay, but nothing beats fresh and homemade.
Which recipe? You can find a zillion recipes for guacamole. Your basic preparation options come down to these:
- Do you mush up the avocado or leave it in chunks
- How much onion should you use
- Garlic or not?
- Tomato or not?
- Lime or lemon juice?
- What is the source of the heat: pepper, pickles, or powders? [Yes, pickles!]
With all those options, no wonder there are so many recipes. My recipe below is for a Spicy Chunky Guac which I promise you people will enjoy. And ask you for the recipe.
Let’s talk about the options.
Usually, I do put my avocados in a bowl and then use a pastry cutter to reduce them to a puree. But recently, I find myself enjoying the chunky version. There really isn’t any food experience like biting through a soft succulent piece of avocado. The taste and texture are so distinctive, so delicious, that you treasure it. If your guac is destined for the inside of a taco, then maybe you do want a smooth guac. But otherwise, go with the chunks.
As with potato salad, I have tended to over onion. By finely dicing just a small amount of onion, you get the flavor you need without competing with the avocado. And I do suggest using Spanish onions so that traces of that bright purple color can contrast with the green of the avocado.
If you look at enough guac recipes, you reach this conclusion: recipes for “basic” guac do not include garlic. If you wish, using one mashed clove for 2 avocados will shift the flavor and contribute to the heat.
I gave up on tomato in guac for one good reason: if you have any leftover guac, the tomato “weeps” and gives you a pool of liquid the next day. Still, I do like a little tomato flavor and certainly the bright color it adds. So, the solution is to use a small, meaty plum tomato. Dice it finely and use only the meat, no juice. This compromise seems to work well.
Classic recipes call for lime juice, and I’m torn here. I love the lime tang, but I often use lemon juice for a subtler guac, one where the avocado flavor has less competition.
Lastly, the heat. Again, a standard recipe will call for using 1 or 2 serrano or jalapeno chilies finely diced. That certainly is a path you can follow to classic flavor. I would never use a powder for heat, say powdered chiles or cumin. But I do enjoy the complex flavor of pickled jalapenos or, yes, hot pickles. [I’ll pass along some of these flavor options in future posts on this blog. I’ve already, in an earlier post, given a good recipe for your own pickled jalapenos.]
For this recipe, I love the Spicy O’s from Terra Verde Farms in Arizona. It’s a tall jar packed with jalapeno rings in the a form you’ve never had. You can find this product, and others, at their website: www.terraverdefarms.com. These Spicy O’s are made with cane sugar, apple juice, and vinegar. They are simultaneously hot, sweet, and sour resulting in very complex taste. Adding a couple of tablespoons or two as your heat source to your guac will produce a distinctive dish. This weekend, I got multiple requests for this recipe and the secret ingredient is the Spicy O’s. And the juice from the jar. Using that juice with the lemon juice is, I believe, a better flavor booster than pure lime juice.
Yield: 2 cups, serves 4 to 6
2 large avocadoes, halved and pitted
½ sweet onion, finely chopped
1 small plum tomato finely dices
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro [yes, you can chop the stems]
2+ tablespoons of Spicy O’s from Terra Verde Farms
1-2 tablespoons of juice from the Spicy O’s jar
1 ½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Using a tablespoon, scoop out the avocado pulp into a small bowl. For each avocado half, make slices lengthwise and crosswise to produce chunks about ¼” on a side.
Add the onion, tomato, cilantro, chiles, and lemon juice. Mix well and season with salt. Taste and adjust with more lemon juice, or juice from the Spicy O’s, as necessary.
Source: Brian O’Rourke