Spicy Corn and Black Bean Salad

Oh mercy.  The  Honyaks, The Evil Genius and I are all so sugared out from Easter candy that  it’s not even funny.  We’re all draped over pieces of furniture craving fresh fruits and veggies and some decently Spring-like days.  At this point we’d all settle for a sunny day without the -30°F winds.  Cripes!  It’s April, already.  So I’m taking matters into my own hands.  I’m turning some of our favorite summer standards (any of them that CAN be done with what’s available in stores, the freezer and the pantry at this time of year) in the hopes that the weather will notice what we’re doing and get into gear.

This Spicy Corn and Black Bean Salad is another from our Bean Files.  It’s another great reason to keep containers of cooked black beans in the fridge or freezer. The corn we used?  Well, shoot.  This time of year it had to be frozen (’cause I don’t do canned corn.)  And you know something?  I use the frozen corn for this salad even when corn is in season.  It’s perfect for this application. Just thaw the bags of corn in the fridge overnight.  If you’re in a real hurry, you can thaw it in the microwave, but try not to cook it.  Part of the appeal of this salad is a little snappy texture from the corn.  Since many of the cell-walls have already been burst in the process of blanching and freezing the corn, you really don’t want to push it  along into mush-territory by cooking it.

Do you need help choosing and handling the perfect avocado?  Go armed with these tips and you should come home with some good ones:

  • Examine the skin of the avocado.  It should be a uniform color.  If there are darker or discolored areas or perforations, it could indicate over-ripe or discolored areas under the skin.  It could also indicate a bad avocado.
  • Locate where the stem is attached to the avocado.  Push on it gently like a button.  If the stem doesn’t move easily, it’s not yet ripe.  If it flies into the avocado with no resistance, it’s overripe and past its prime.  If it yields to pressure, without being squishy, it’s probably the perfect avocado.
  • Once you find the perfect avocado treat it gently!  Put it in your cart or basket where it won’t get banged around.  Keep an eagle eye on where it lands in the grocery bags so you can carefully take it home.  Place it in the middle of your fridge and use within a day or two for best quality.

We like this pretty spicy (as evidenced by the habaneros we used for the spice-kick here).  If your tastebuds don’t do chile-peppers, you can always substitute bell peppers for the hot peppers.  Feel free.  I won’t judge!

I have to say that a big bowl of this is a good, light dinner in my book.  But if you are so inclined it makes a wonderful side dish for any and all grilled meats.  And if you were feeling crazy, you could add some crispy crumbled bacon to it and you probably wouldn’t regret it.  But then again it’s pretty hard to regret adding bacon.

For a photo-free, printer-friendly version of this recipe, click here!

I love this stuff.

I love this stuff.

Spicy Corn Salad

Ingredients: cornsalad1

  • 36 ounces frozen corn, thawed but not cooked
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked and drained black beans (or 2 cans black beans drained and rinsed)
  • 2 avocados
  • 2 cucumbers (preferably English seedless, but any two will do)
  • BIG handful fresh cilantro
  • 1-4 fresh jalapeno or habanero chile peppers (depending on heat preference)

 

Dressing: cornsalad2

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic or garlic paste
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard (I’m not joking.  It’s really crucial!)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup canola or peanut oil

Combine corn and black beans in a large mixing bowl and set next to your cutting board.  If using English cucumbers, remove plastic wrap, slice into long strips then slice the long strips into cubes then add to the corn and beans.  (If using a standard, wax-coated cuke, peel first, halve, then seed the cucumber before slicing into long strips and cubes and adding to the corn and beans.)

All I could find were the wax-coated cukes in my store and I can't be the only one.  Peel the beastie and cut in half lengthwise.

All I could find were the wax-coated cukes in my store and I can't be the only one. Peel the beastie and cut in half lengthwise.

Use the tip of a teaspoon to dig the seedy pulp from the center of the cucumber.

Use the tip of a teaspoon to dig the seedy pulp from the center of the cucumber.

Halfway done and we look like this...

Halfway done and we look like this...

Cut the seeded halves into long strips...

Cut the seeded halves into long strips...

Turn the long strips 90 degrees and cut across them.  (Almost) instant diced cucumbers!

Turn the long strips 90 degrees and cut across them. (Almost) instant diced cucumbers!

Clearly I chose a bowl that was much too small.  The smart thing to do would be to switch it into a larger bowl.  However, I chose to soldier on...

Clearly I chose a bowl that was much too small. The smart thing to do would be to switch it into a larger bowl. However, I chose to soldier on... Aint' no fool like a stubborn fool!

 

Wear gloves to stem and seed the chile peppers.

Slice peppers into thin strips and then turn and cut across the strips to create tiny diced pepper pieces

Can I please re-emphasize to wear disposable gloves when working with habanero peppers?  Just trust me.  And see this post for further details...

Can I please re-emphasize to wear disposable gloves when working with habanero peppers? Just trust me.

 

cornsalad-22

Don't the habanero strips almost resemble flames?  I think that's pretty appropriate!

Don't the habanero strips almost resemble flames? I think that's pretty appropriate!

Turn 90 degrees and cut across your thin strips of peppers.  Voila!  Tiny diced pieces of habanero.  Virtually painless.  For now!

Turn 90 degrees and cut across your thin strips of peppers. Voila! Tiny diced pieces of habanero. Virtually painless. For now!

Add to the other veggies.  Toss gently to mix.

Remove large stems from your cilantro and roughly chop the leaves before adding to the veggies in the mixing bowl.

In a jar with a tight fitting lid, add all ingredients for the dressing except the oil.  Firmly screw the lid in place and shake like crazy until everything is evenly mixed.  Remove the lid, add oil, replace lid and shake like the dickens.  When the oil is suspended in the mixture (you don’t see pools of unincorporated oil) the dressing is ready.

Or you can use a little whisk.  Do whatever flicks your Bic!

Or you can use a little whisk. Do whatever flicks your Bic!

 

Just before serving, halve the avocados and remove the pits.

Here's how you work an avocado.  Use a nice, sharp knife to cut to the center (pit) of the avocado.  Rotate your knife around until you've scored the avocado all the way around the pit.

Here's how you open an avocado. Use a nice, sharp knife to cut to the center (pit) of the avocado. Rotate your knife around until you've scored the avocado all the way around the pit.

With one hand cupping the bottom of the avocado, use the other hand to twist the top half of the avocado.  It should come away easily.

With one hand cupping the bottom of the avocado, use the other hand to twist the top half of the avocado. It should come away fairly easily after you get it started.

Now.  For that pit...

Now. For that pit...

While your avocado is sitting on the cutting board (NOT IN YOUR HAND!) gently tap it with the blade of your knife.  The knife should stick.  Then pick up the avocado half and gently twist your knife.  The pit should come away from the avocado easily.

While your avocado is sitting on the cutting board (NOT IN YOUR HAND!) gently tap it with the blade of your knife. The knife should stick. Then pick up the avocado half and gently twist your knife. The pit should come away from the avocado easily.

Look at those gorgeous avocados!

Look at those gorgeous avocados!

I wouldn't be so unkind as to leave you with an avocado pit stuck to your precious knife without giving you a way to remove it.  Reaching over the back (read: not sharp part) of the blade, pinch the knife where it meets the pit.  The pit should, with little convincing, pop away from the knife blade.

I wouldn't be so unkind as to leave you with an avocado pit stuck to your precious knife without giving you a way to remove it. Reaching over the back (read: not sharp part) of the blade, pinch the knife where it meets the pit. The pit should, with little convincing, pop away from the knife blade.

 

Use a butter knife to make slices in the avocados at even intervals from end to end without slicing through the skin.  Rotate the avocado 90° and use the knife to cut across the slices you already made to create a grid.

Grid in process.

Grid in process.

The completed grid.  Ready to eat!

The completed grid. Ready to eat!

Insert a serving spoon between the skin and flesh of the avocado.

In one side...

In one side...

Follow the contours of the avocado with the spoon down to the base of the avocado and up and out the other side.

...And out the other.

...And out the other.

The perfect cubes of avocado should come easily away from the skin.  Add to the salad with the cilantro, pour the dressing over top, toss and serve immediately!

cornsalad-25

...And this is where I really regretted not switching to a larger bowl. Ah well. We live with our choices, eh?

I ate half of this before it made its way to the table.  It's addictive like that.

I ate half of this before it made its way to the table. It's addictive like that.

So good.  So easy.  So... summery!

So good. So easy. So... summery!

Leftovers can be refrigerated for a day or two and will taste wonderful, but the avocado will likely discolor.  It’s still good to eat, just not quite as pretty!

Comments

  1. You gotta know I would love this. LOVE. This would be a perfect side dish to a couple of tacos. Thanks for the cucumber demo. I feel silly that I never did it that way before.

    Cucumber demo?

    Okay, I won’t.

    Don’t the habanero strips almost resemble flames?

    That prompted this:

    Flames. Flames, on the side of my face. breathing-breathl- heaving breaths. Heaving…

    to pop into my head. And if you don’t get the reference, I am so sorry for looking like a crazy person all over your page. Which I’m sure I already do hahaha.

  2. Melissa- You’re quoting one of my favorite movies ever, Clue. I’m beginning to think we might be related. And this salad is awesome with tacos, and burritos, and enchiladas, and grilled fish, and a spoon. It’s the habaneros, really…

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