The other evening, as I was fixing my dinner, my neighbor brought me a very nice treat. She’s like that, she loves to cook, bake and share. This gift was perfect in timing and yumminess. I smelled the onion almost before I opened my front door.
It was a pretty concoction, a lovely mix of colors. I invited her in and asked her what it was. She launched into a story about her niece who made it for a weight loss group she belongs to, and how she’d told her niece (in no uncertain terms) that she didn’t like black beans. “Just give me a taste” she’d said, and promptly sent her niece off to fetch her a nice bowlful.
Her timing being as perfect as it was, my dinner was just about to come off the stove. I plated a piece of almond-crusted basa for her and thanked her again. I enjoyed my dinner, then thought I’d try just a bite of what she’d brought me. Yeah, right… just as I was finishing licking the bowl the phone rang. It was my neighbor, thanking me for the fish. I told her I’d be over in the morning for the salad recipe.
This recipe is nothing particularly unusual or exotic, but I think that the proportions are unusually good. I love beans and sweet corn, and I am one of the lucky ones who enjoys cilantro without thinking it tastes soapy. If you have the “cilantro tastes like soap” gene, or if you simply don’t care for it, you can certainly substitute parsley, or just not fret about it.
See, this kind of “salad” for want for a better word, is amazingly flexible. Use most any kind of beans you like, just keep the basic 2 parts beans to one part corn ratio. Add more or less onion, peppers, even chopped tomatoes would not be a bad addition if you wanted to. Use red and orange pepper for more color; add drained canned tuna or left-over roasted chicken if you like; you get the idea…
And, while this would be dandy as a make-ahead pot-luck side dish, I’m thinking that it would also make a fine soup base, just add chicken or vegetable broth and simmer. Mmmm… I’ll let you know (or let me know if you try it,) OK?
Here’s her original recipe with my changes noted in parentheses.
Two Bean and Corn Salad
1/2 C vegetable oil (1/4 C olive oil)
4 T balsamic vinegar
2 tsp cumin
pinch of salt
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed (I used Mayacoba beans)
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped (1/2 onion was enough for me)
1/3 C chopped fresh cilantro
2 small jalapenos, seeded and chopped (had none, so left ’em out)
In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, cumin and pinch of salt. Add all other ingredients and mix well to coat. Refrigerate 1 hour or more to let flavors blend.
The only further suggestion I can make is to chop the onion very fine, and chop the red pepper smaller than the largest beans you are using. Its a “mouth-feel” thing. This is a great make-with-kids recipe, you chop they mix.
Oh, and the basa recipe, you ask? Not even a recipe, really, just:
1 nice basa fillet (about 1/2 lb) cut in two pieces
salt and pepper
olive oil and a smidge of butter for pan frying
Put the fish in a plastic bag with the almond meal (you can grind almonds or buy almond meal if you are sure it is nice and fresh). Heat the oil (about 1/4 inch of oil, no more) in a skillet, add the fish. It should just sizzle. Salt moderately and pepper generously. Turn once after two or three minutes depending on the thickness of the fillet. Add the butter near the end of cooking time for flavor. Enjoy with a neighbor’s salad.
That’s pretty much it. Bon appetit and stay warm and safe, y’all!