Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Salsa Lovin'

Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salsa

When I first moved to Austin to attend grad school in the blazing hot summer of 2002, I didn't know a soul.  For the first 6 months, my best friends were my DVD player and the A/C unit.  Eventually, I started meeting people in school and I started to form a network of friends.  Beyond studying together, we would have movie nights and frequent informal gatherings to help all of us relax and decompress.  And every time we would get together, we would all bring food to share.  I don't think it was ever explicitly stated, but all of us were foodies, and it seemed to make everyone happy to feed each other.  That was something I sorely missed - the communal and social aspect of eating. 

It was difficult, and at times, depressing, to cook just for myself, and thus my dependence on frozen food and take-out/delivery during grad school.  But these gatherings always made me happy, keeping that glimmer of hope alive that one day eating together would be more the rule than the exception.

The salsa that inspired this recipe was the star of one of those gatherings.  It was refreshing and satisfying, with so many wonderful textures and flavors mingling in each bite.  I had to have the recipe, and my friend was gracious enough to share it with me.  Since then, I have put my own twist on the recipe and have brought this dish to many gatherings and events.  And each time without fail, I am greeted with smiling requests for the recipe. 

So before you can even ask, here you go.   Don't mention it.  :)

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa 
(GF, DF, V, rSF, SF)

16 oz corn kernels
2-3 tablespoons oil for roasting
2 c black beans
1 c diced bell pepper
1/2 c diced tomato
1/2 c diced onion
1/2-1 jalapeno
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c cilantro leaves


5 tablespoons oil
5 teaspoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon ground chipotle
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt

1.  Preheat oven to 385 degrees.
2.  In a bowl, mix corn kernels and 2-3 tablespoons oil (canola or evoo work nicely) to coat.  I also like to add some of the other vegetables at this time - just a touch of each one with a little bit of jalapeno sliced into strips as opposed to minced.
3. Spread onto a baking pan lined with parchment paper.  Bake for 15 minutes, turning mixture periodically to insure even cooking.  A little caramelization is fine, but you want the corn kernels to retain their plumpness and not to char or dry out.  Once finished, set aside to cool.
4. If using canned black beans, drain and then rinse the beans in cold water until the water runs clear.  Avoid letting the beans sit in water, as this will dilute the beans' flavor.
5. Prep the rest of your vegetables.  De-seed the tomatoes and bell pepper and then dice the bell pepper, tomato, and onion.  Mince the garlic and jalapeno.  Keep some of the ribs and seeds of the jalapeno for added heat.
6.  Soak the cilantro leaves in water and allow to sit for ~5 minutes.  I find this is the best way to clean any sand or dirt from the leaves.  Lift them from the water, pat them dry, and then finely mince.
7.  In a mixing bowl, start to assemble your ingredients.  Start with the corn, then add the cilantro, followed by the vegetables, and then the black beans.  Gently toss all the components together.
8.  For the dressing, combine all ingredients except salt into a small bowl and whisk thoroughly.  When seasoning, start with 1/4 teaspoon salt, taste, and if needed, add the other 1/4 teaspoon.  Keep in mind that this dressing is a marinade, and that flavors will continue to intensify.  You can always add more salt, but you can't take it away.
9.  Pour over corn, vegetables, and black beans, give it a toss, and then cover and chill.  Toss ingredients every few hours to spread the flavor love.  Let it marinate for at least 8 hours.
10.  Makes 6-8 servings.

Delicious ingredients

Ready to roast

No seeds, please

Whisking the dressing

Served with multigrain and black bean chips

I love this salsa so much and in such a variety of ways.  It's a great accompaniment to mashed potatoes, it's wonderful on a bed of greens served with a spice-rubbed steak,  you can add avocado for a truly spectacular guacamole, mix it with steamed rice, or simply enjoy it with the chips of your choosing. 

But what I truly enjoy is how easily it becomes a conversation piece at parties and gatherings, bringing people together.  And it is that sense of community, finding that common ground, and recognizing it by putting it into words... that is what I really love the most. 

May the same fortune be yours. :)


  1. Looks yummy!! I dont know how you find the time to post such awesome blogs/pics/recipes but they sure do make me drool!!

  2. One of my favorites =) Everybody always loves it whenever it is made.Easy to make and wonderfully satisfying. Yum, yum in my tum.


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