Mexican Salad


We loooove this salad! It is a delight. I make it once a year when the corn is in season. The sweet corn and buttery pinto beans would do well on their own, but just look at the accompanying list of ingredients. The salt from the olives and their distinct flavour combine with the sweetness of the corn and tartness of the green apple. All are enveloped by the avocado chunks that seem to melt away and permeate the entire salad in a creaminess that gets rounded out, some might say zapped, by the apple cider vinegar. Talk about an explosion of flavour with so many friendly dimensions; each spoonful is familiar, but distinct depending on the combination. What a party!! The tongue tingles from the flavour sensations.

The recipe is adapted from American Food Network Robin Miller’s recipe, Mexican Chopped Salad with Toasted Cumin Vinaigrette. I can’t say that I am a fan of hers. In fact, I’ve never even seen her show. I must have come across this recipe in one of my searches. I’ve upped the beans and cilantro, have reduced the amount of apple, and have not included the marinated jalapenos or the chicken, of course. I think I can safely say that the vinaigrette, though inspired by hers, is mine or at least has my touch. She uses a 2 : 4 ratio of olive oil to vinegar (which is way too vinegary for me). I use a 3 : 2 ratio, have kept the same amount of cumin, and have added paprika, mustard and cooked onions and garlic. The cumin and paprika come alive when heated and dissolve into the olive oil, so that the olive oil (and the vinaigrette, really) are integrally infused with their earthy tones. It is such an aromatic vinaigrette that is so fragrant it floods the house (in a good way).  

This salad is substantial enough for dinner. Corn and beans combine to make a complete vegetable protein, so the dish is a main salad meal. I go back and forth with the Monterrey Jack cheese. In this version, I omitted it. Both are very good. I have served heaping spoonfuls on to plates, but have also used it as a filler for sandwiches made with those extra thick whole grain pitas. This is a quick and easy weeknight meal.

Serves 3

Ingredients:

 Corn, cobs, grilled  2
 Beans, Pinto  19 oz
 Cheese, Monterrey Jack, shredded (optional)  1 cup
 Olives, green, chopped  ½ cup
 Tomatoes, chopped  2
 Apple, Granny Smith, chopped  1/2
 Avocado, chopped  1
 Cilantro, coarsely chopped  1/2 cup
Vinaigrette:  
 Olive oil  3 tbsp
 Cumin  1 tsp
 Paprika  ¼ tsp
 Garlic, minced  2
 Shallots, finely chopped  2
 Mustard  ½ tsp
 Vinegar, cider  2 tbsp
 Salt  ¼ tsp
 Black Pepper  

Directions:

  1. Grill corn until golden brown on all sides, turning frequently. Remove from heat and cool. When cool enough to handle, using a knife, separate kernels from cob.
  2. Transfer kernels to a large bowl and add  beans, cheese (if using), olives, tomatoes, apple, avocado and cilantro. Toss to combine.
  3. For the dressing, heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add cumin, paprika, garlic, shallots, and mustard and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until fragrant. Remove from heat and whisk in vinegar.
  4. Add vinaigrette to salad and toss to coat. The vinaigrette may not seem like enough because the shallots will have absorbed some of the oil, but it is plenty.
  5. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

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