Sunday, August 9, 2009
Day 6: Black Bean and Corn Summer Salad (Plus! Sexy Tacos!)
Sing with me now: It's summertiiiiiime, and the produce is cheaaaap-y! And today's recipe features everything good and plentiful and gorgeous about late summer (vine-ripened tomatoes, corn right off the cob, fresh herbs, perfect avocados) and synthesizes it into a healthy, vegan salad/dip/super-sexy taco filling.
And how could you possibly say no to that? You're only human.
But first, the not so sexy: rinse two cans of black beans and allow to drain. Wonk, wonk.
But, then! Shuck about four ears of sweet, fresh summer corn and...
...slice off the kernels. I like to do it standing the ear on one end inside a big mixing bowl which eliminates the picking wee corn niblets (ew) from underneath both your appliances and bare feet. I am taking a strong no-niblets-in-the-toes stance, here.
Warm about two tablespoons of olive oil in your largest skillet over medium-high heat and...
...saute the corn for about five minutes, letting some good browning action happen there on the bottom. You'll know when it's done by the change in color and the overwhelming toasty smell of corn. Remove the pan from heat and set aside.
While the corn cools slightly, chop up two summer tomatoes. Set aside.
Next on the chopping board: silky green avocados! Avocados seem ridiculously luxurious (the color! the texture! the fatty-fat creaminess!) but are such a fantastic deal in the summer. And while they are not as cheap as, say, beans (wonk, wonk), these beauties are essential and should not be omitted. So, grab two and chop them up, chop chop.
Throw the beans, cooled corn, avocado, and tomatoes into a large bowl and try not to positively wet yourself over the colors. In fact, take a picture so you can remember these colors come the bleak middle of January. (Bonus tip: put it in a blue bowl and tell your small kid that you're making RAINBOW SALAD and then watch said kid try not to wet themselves.)
Time for dressing! And a little pile of limes, three to be exact.
The juice of three limes is the base of the dressing, so juice away. I use this old glass juicer just like the one my great-grandmother used, and I do love it. It is sturdy and solid, perfect for limes or lemons or oranges, charmingly sculpted with a little pouring spout on the side and little nubs for straining out seeds, and I think it set me back about five dollars. Keep your fancy citrus-specific presses, Mr. Williams of Sonoma: this cheap dame is keeping it ye olde skool.
Next, you'll need one or two fresh jalapenos (or even three or four, depending on your spice preference.) Jalapenos vary wildly in spiciness (on the Scoville scale, to be exact, smartypants), so taste a little sample and choose the number accordingly. Slice open, scraping out the veins and seeds with a spoon, and...
...give the pepper a fine dice.
Mix the diced jalapenos with the lime juice in a small measuring cup.
Next, whisk in one teaspoon of honey for a little sweet balance, and then, drizzling slowly while whisking constantly, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to make a nice emulsion.
Pour the dressing over the salad, add salt and fresh pepper to taste, and...
...sprinkle with a few tablespoons of fresh chopped cilantro before gently, gently mixing, being careful not to excessively smoosh the beans and avocado.
Now at this juncture, you have a perfectly gorgeous salad that can be eaten straight-up. Or spooned over a nice piece of grilled meat or chicken or fish or tofu. Or served with chips and dipped upon with abandon. Or...
...place it on top of two small, lightly pan-fried, corn tortillas for a fresh, filling, So-Cal-style meal for about one hundred pennies a plate.
You will not even miss the expensive animal products one teeny bit. The flavor profile has it all: sweet, sour, salty, spicy, creamy, crunchy...bliss.
It's the sexiest cheap thing you'll put in your mouth all summer and THAT'S A PROMISE, mister. (Unless you're going to Cabo: all bets are off.)
Black Bean, Corn, and Avocado Summer Tacos from Beanplate
(serves 6 to 8)
2 T. olive oil
4 ears fresh corn, kernels removed
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 avocados, diced
2 tomatoes, diced
2 T. cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
juice of 3 limes
1-2 fresh jalapenos, diced, seeds and veins removed
1 tsp honey
2 T. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add corn and cook for five to seven minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Once cooled, combine corn with beans, tomatoes, and avocados in large mixing bowl.
To assemble dressing: mix lime juice, jalapenos, and honey in a measuring cup. Slowly whisk in oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour dressing over salad. Add cilantro, mix gently to combine all.
For tacos, pan-fry small corn tortillas two-at-a-time in a small amount of oil in a large non-stick skillet. Spoon filling over tortillas and serve.