18 July 2010

Recipe: Black bean & corn salad

I love corn on the cob, don't get me wrong, but with the abundance of corn showing up from the CSA these days, I had to come up with some other things to do with it.  This recipe is adapted from the black bean, corn and tomato salad in Joy of Cooking.

Cut kernels from about 3 ears of corn.  Put them in a small pan and boil in just enough water to cover for 1 minute. Drain, rinse under cold water, and put them in a large bowl.

When it comes to corn on the cob, YMMV on amounts.  You're looking for 1-2 c. total, depending on your preferred ratio of corn to other ingredients.  You'll count your minute from when the water starts to boil. 

Next you're going to make the vinaigrette:

2 Tbsp. any flavorful vinegar (but probably not any of the fruit ones - if you've made homemade herb vinegar, though, this would be a GREAT application)
several cloves of garlic
salt & pepper to taste
5 Tbsp. good quality olive oil
1/4 c. (or thereabouts) basil (or other green herbs)

OK, the EASIEST way to make a vinaigrette is to use a stick/immersion blender.  If you have one, just bung everything into the tall cylindrical container that comes with and have at it.  If not, you're going to have to do a lot of fine dicing, chopping, and whisking.  You don't want a big glob of basil - or garlic - in your mouth, and you need to WHISK WHISK WHISK to make sure it emulsifies properly.

Obviously, everything that goes into a vinaigrette is to taste, so make sure you taste as you go. Don't have basil?  Use cilantro.  Want to toss in some shallots?  Go for it.  Garlic is always to taste, as are salt & pepper.  A little lime juice?  Divine.  The only requirements are some sort of flavorful oil and some sort of flavorful acid.

Rinse 1 15 oz. can of black beans and toss into bowl with corn.

The Joy recipe calls for about twice as many black beans and encourages you to do the overnight soak/long cooking time thing.  Dude, this is a SUMMER dish.  I don't really want to steam up my kitchen by simmering beans for an hour or two.  I also think a roughly equal balance of beans and corn is what you're after, not twice as many beans as corn.  But you may not agree.

Now comes the good part.  The Joy recipe just calls for you to add cherry tomatoes and red onion.  Whatever!  Here's what I added:

2 large, very ripe tomatoes chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
several thinly sliced scallions
1 finely diced jalapeno

This is about using your produce.  The tenor of the dish will be influenced by what you decide to include.  Include jalapeno, cilantro, and lime juice? Viva la Mexico! Oregano, feta cheese and black olives?  Sounds Greek to me.  Stick with the recipe above but take out the jalapeno and add some chopped zucchini, and it seems kind of Italian.

Pour the dressing over the vegetables in the bowl, let sit at room temperature for at least 20 minutes, stir, taste and serve.

Stir gently - you don't want to smush the beans or the tomatoes.  As always, remember to taste and adjust seasonings before serving!  Because of all that starch, the flavor can be a little flat.  If it does, you want to add more acid (citrus juice, tomatoes, or vinegar) or salt.  You should be using really fresh, ripe corn and tomatoes, so there should be plenty of sweetness.  If your produce was sub-par (which during the summer it absolutely should not be, and if it's not summer, you shouldn't be making this), you might want to sprinkle on a TINY bit of sugar.  Don't be too stingy with the olive oil, either - you need fat to carry flavor.

This makes a great side dish with a simple grilled steak or broiled fish. 

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