Thursday, September 4, 2008

Veggie Might: Interjections! Black Bean Salad with Fresh Corn!

Penned by the effervescent Leigh, Veggie Might is a weekly Thursday column about the wide world of Vegetarianism.

Please join me for an exciting, emotional two-part series devoted to corn.

Breaking tradition, I’ve only had corn on the cob twice this summer. For some reason, I kept telling myself it wasn’t in season yet, and now here we are in September. Growing up, I remember it being a late-summer treat. Rats! I think I blew it this year.

Last week, I picked up some New Jersey-grown corn from the local farmers that come to my neighborhood on Saturdays. It’s finally time, I told myself, and the price was right. I got 6 ears for $3—Hey, not bad for Manhattan—and planned to eat them all myself, maybe that very day.

I cooked up 4 ears immediately and, to offset the anticipation, busied myself preparing complimentary sides: sliced tomatoes, black beans, and rice.

When everything was ready, I sat down to eat. With the first bite, I could have cried. I wish I could say the near tears were from the sweet, delicious taste of summer, but alas, the corn was bland and flavorless. Curses! I waited too long.

Argh! I was left with 3 cooked ears that I didn’t want to eat. I put them in the fridge and awaited inspiration. What could I make with already cooked corn? It was too hot to make corn bread, and the thought of succotash makes me want to hurl.

That’s when I remembered another summer staple I’d gone all season without: black bean salad. Wee! It’s the perfect solution. This dish combines so many other veggies and spices; the corn doesn’t need to be the star.

I discovered this bean salad recipe when I did Weight Watchers a few years ago, and I’ve made it a million times since. The original recipe asks you to roll the bean mixture into lettuce leaves like burritos, but that’s too much hassle for me. I like a nice, easy salad I can just throw on some greens call lunch.

The flavors are light and refreshing: lime and cilantro with a just a kick of garlic and scallion. You can use any small bean you have (I think kidney beans would be over powering) or mix a few varieties for color. I’ve been eating and loving this all week.

It’s easily adaptable too. I’ve made this in quadruple quantities for picnics and office potlucks. Plus, it’s super cheap, way healthier, and a bit more sophisticated than a mayonaissey potato salad.

Did I mention that it’s easy? It’s so easy. This salad is pretty much all prep. Chop, mix, let it sit, and serve. Voila! Lunch, dinner,’re ready to go.

All that and it saved my corn from certain humiliation. Allelujah!

Black Bean Salad with Fresh Corn
Adapted from Weight Watchers online recipe Black Bean Lettuce Bundles
Serves 6

1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups fresh, cooked corn kernels (Note: Normally, I would only use 1 cup of corn, but I had 3 ears to use.)
1 medium sweet red pepper, seeded and chopped
4 medium scallions, sliced
2/3 cup cilantro, chopped (Note: You could also substitute parsley for a fresh flavor with a more Middle Eastern flair.)
Juice of 1 lime (Note: If you decide to go with parsley, sub lemons for limes.)
2 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp ground cumin
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp salt

1) In a medium bowl, combine beans, corn, red pepper, scallions, cilantro, lime juice, oil, cumin, garlic, and salt. Mix.

2) Cover. Stick in the fridge for at least 60 minutes and tada!

3) Serve as a side or over salad greens.

Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price per Serving
148.5 calories, 2.72g fat, $.93

2 cups fresh, cooked corn kernels: 354 calories, 4g fat, $1.50
1 15 oz can black beans: 330 calories, 3g fat, $0.79
1 sweet red pepper: 51 calories, 0g fat, $1.67
4 medium scallions: 32 calories, 0g fat, $0.33
2/3 cup cilantro: 22 calories, 0g fat, $0.79
1 lime, juiced, 9.5 calories, .03 fat, $0.33
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil: 80 calories, 9.3g fat, $0.06
1 tbsp ground cumin: negligible calories and fat, $0.03
3 large cloves garlic: 12.6 calories, 0g fat, $0.04
1 tsp salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
TOTALS: 891 calories, 16.33g fat, $5.59
PER SERVING: 148.5 calories, 2.72g fat, $.93


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