Monday, August 16, 2010

Roasted Corn-Black Bean-Tomato Salsa

On a visit home to Alabama several years ago, my brother had made this bowl of salsa (I don't remember what he called it) that consisted mainly of canned green chiles, white shoepeg corn, onions, beans, tomatoes and some other flavorings.  We ate it on salad with grilled chicken thighs and with chips.  It was really good.

Of course, I thought that it would really make it special if it was made with fresh local ingredients.   Being the farm stand addict that I am, I couldn't help myself.  The next summer, I rounded up fresh ingredients to make a go of this recipe.  The can of white shoepeg corn was replaced with fresh roasted corn off the cob, the green chilies were replaced with jalapenos or serrano chilies, the beans became black beans, sweet summer candy onions replaced yellow onions and so on.  This has become one of my favorite salsas because it is so chunky and flavorful.  I love that spicy sweet combination of the roasted corn, cherry tomatoes and the spicy peppers.  It is nutrient dense, low in calories and tasty.  That is a good combination!
 So let's get to it . . .

The only thing that you need to cook is the corn and to be perfectly honest with you, if the corn is really fresh, then it can be cut off the cob without cooking and added if you would like.  I like the roasted corn flavor so I am heating up the grill.  Many times when I make this salsa it is with left over roasted corn from the night before.
The corn was a bit smaller this year because we had very dry conditions for a while and the produce suffered, including the corn. It was still good.  Hopefully the rains will come and all will be good.  It seems these days we are praying for rain or praying for it to go away.  The corn is just roasted with a few tasty, charred morsels.  Set it aside and let it cool.

Chop some cherry tomatoes into quarters.  I was lucky enough to find these little heirloom tomatoes and I love the color and the taste.  Toss them in a large bowl.
Chop some white onions or a sweet summer variety.  We have candy onions where I am.  About 1/4 inch will work fine.
Drain a 15.5 oz can of black beans and rinse them.  Toss them in with the tomatoes and the onions.

Here is a jalapeno pepper.  Most everyone has seen one of these.  Right?  When I was still in Texas, someone told me you could tell a hot pepper by these little lines on the outside.  I have remembered this piece of advice and still to this day I use it and have yet to be disappointed.
This little guy definitely has them and then when I cut it open . . .

. . . there are yellow streaks on the ribs next to the seeds.  This is where most of the heat is and these peppers are definitely hot.  This yellow stuff is called capsaicin and accounts for approximately 80% of the heat in a pepper.  Another interesting factoid about this stuff is it is not water soluble.  Drinking water does not alleviate the heat or spice from peppers, instead it seems to make it spread or worse.  Milk or yogurt is a good neutralizer, but not low fat kind, because capsaicin is fat soluble and will become absorbed and wash away.  Many times spicy foods are served with cheese, sour cream or guacamole.  It is interesting to note that in Mexico they definitely go light on the cheese and crema (similar to sour cream in Mexico) but there is definitely plenty of guacamole.

I like my salsa to have a lot of heat so I finely chop the the whole pepper.  Yes, seeds, ribs and all. People who don't like the spicy heat should remove the seeds and ribs and you will remove a lot of the capsaicin.  If you don't use plastic gloves then wash your hands immediately after handling peppers.  I never use gloves but I do wash my hands well.  On occasion, I will feel a mild burn, usually not right away, but later on in the day.  And good lord, don't rub your eyes or nose with capsaicin coated hands.  It will burn and be annoying.  It may feel like you skin will melt away, but it is harmless.  You will be back to your old self before long.

Finely chop a clove or two of garlic and toss with the minced pepper and stir. 
It is starting to look good.  Don't you think?  The corn should be cool enough to cut off the cob, so cut that off and add it in.
At this point, I need cilantro but my daughter used it all.  I had to go get some.  Road trip.  The final ingredients added are 1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, a large clove of garlic minced, the juice of 1 lime, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 teaspoons of red or white wine vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.
Love this salsa.  It tastes great on salty chips or use in on some fresh salad greens, topped with grilled chicken and avocado.  Yum.  I brought this salsa to the Riverfront Music Festival as a part of our picnic dinner.

Notes:  The original dish had mild roasted green peppers from a can.  I do like this addition and sometimes add them also, chopped.  Avocado is really good with this but usually only add it as needed because the salsa lasts longer this way.

Roasted Corn-Black Bean-Tomato Salsa

4 ears of fresh corn
1 can of 15 1/2 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
1 pint of cherry tomatoes, quartered (go for the heirlooms if you can find them)
1 medium white onion, diced 1/4 inch
1 large jalapeno, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup of cilantro, chopped
juice of 1 lime
2 teaspoons of red or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon of olive oil

Shuck and clean the corn and grill them until they are slightly charred, periodically turning the corn. This should take about 10 minutes.  Set the corn aside to cool.

Mix the remaining ingredients in a large bowl.  Cut the corn kernals off the cob and add them to the other ingredients.  Serve with chips or as a side with grilled chicken.

Notes: Serrano or chipotle chilies in adobe sauce can be substituted for the jalapeno.  Sweet summer onions such as "candy" or "1015s" can be substituted for the white onion.  Chopped green chilies in a nice addition, if you so choose.  Diced avocados goes amazingly well in this salsa but I usually add it as served because the salsa stays "fresher" longer.  Avocados do have a tendency to go brown when you are not looking!

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