There is an abundance of mangos around here lately. One of the local grocery stores has even used them as a come-on deal. They give you a “free” box of mangos (actually 9) if you spend a certain amount for other groceries. I like mangos as well as the next person, but figuring out what to do with nine becomes a challenge. I think the best way to enjoy them is fresh and with nothing added. That makes a perfect breakfast. Then there are mango ice cream and mango smoothies along with refreshing mango lassi. There are fruit salad and mango pie. Mango salsa is also popular and would fit in with our family Sunday dinner, but I thought it needed some additional ingredients.
Because it’s also the beginning of the season for fresh corn at the local farmers market, roasted corn would make a good second ingredient. Then, corn just seems to call out for beans and chiles. Since there are folks in our family averse to chiles, I used sweet peppers instead, but the kick of jalapeño would be an excellent addition. This salsa wound up being a side dish for this week’s family dinner of Southern fried chicken, fingerling potatoes, biscuits, and gravy. An odd combination, I know, but there were no complaints, and the plates were clean.
Roasted Corn-Black Bean-Mango Salsa
- 2 ears fresh corn, shucked and silk removed
- 14.5 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 each red, orange and yellow sweet snacking peppers, seeded and sliced crosswise into rings
- 2 ripe mangos, peeled, seeded, and diced
- ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (substitute parsley if you’re one of the many who don’t like cilantro)
- ½ medium red onion, diced (optional if you don’t like onion)
- juice of ½ lemon
- ½ teaspoon chili powder (optional and to taste)
- salt and pepper
- 4 ounces cotija cheese (Substitute feta if you can’t find cotija)
- Place the ears of corn in a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Turn frequently and lightly brown kernels on all sides of the ears of corn. When they are roasted to your liking, remove the ears of corn, cool, and in a large bowl, cut the kernels off the cobs with a sharp knife. Break the kernels apart with your fingers if necessary.
- Gently fold in the beans, peppers, mangos, cilantro, and onion.
- Stir in the lemon juice and adjust the seasoning with chili powder, salt, and pepper.
- Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
- Remove from the refrigerator, gently stir in crumbled cotija cheese, and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.
Just as with everything else, there are trends and fashions at the farmers market. Year before last it was cardoons. Last year it was kohlrabis. Now those are old hat. This year one of the new items is black haricots verts. Actually they’re not black but a very deep shade of purple that looks black. The beans are very distinctive, heaped up in baskets next to the regular green pole beans. It’s very hard to resist buying some if you are looking for something a little different to try out.
Many of you experienced cooks probably already know this, but I was surprised and more than a little disappointed when I dropped the beans into boiling water to blanch them, and the purple/black color disappeared. Suddenly my haricots verts were, indeed, green.
Curious to know why that happened, I turned to the most reliable expert on kitchen science that I know, Harold McGee, author of a regular column in the New York Times and numerous books including On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen (Second edition, Scribner, New York, 2004). Sure enough, there he had a short scholarly discussion of anthocyanins (pp. 267-268, 281-281) It turns out that the red and purple colors of most flowers and vegetables are due to a group of about 300 related chemicals known as anthocyanins. They are very sensitive to alkalinity and acidity as well as some metals, which help to determine the color that the chemical gives to a flower or vegetable. They are also highly water-soluble, so when the spaces where they are stored break open during the cooking process, the coloration is rapidly diluted and dissipates. Hence, the beautiful black beans turn a beautiful chlorophyll-green. And that’s ok, too, because the blanched haricots verts can be used for whatever might be one of your favorite dishes.
I decided to use them in a chilled salad with scallions and dill, topped with a balsamic vinaigrette. The bright green chlorophyll color was terrific.
Haricots Verts Vinaigrette with Scallions and Dill
- 1 pound fresh haricots verts, washed and trimmed
- 4 scallions cut in ½ inch slices, whites and greens included
- ¼ cup fresh dill fronds, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (not the expensive stuff)
- 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- salt and pepper
- pinch of sugar
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff)
- In a large pot, bring 2 quarts of salted water to a rolling boil
- Add the green beans in a single batch and return the water to the boil
- Boil the beans for no more than 4 minutes so that they remain crisp. Drain and immediately plunge into a prepared large bowl of ice and chilled water.
- When the beans have cooled, drain and transfer them to the refrigerator until they are ready to use. (Remove any remaining pieces of ice)
- Prepare the scallions and dill. Set aside.
- Using a whisk and a small bowl, combine the vinegar, minced garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, and sugar.
- Whisking continuously, slowly stir in the olive oil to make a vinaigrette. Correct the seasoning.
- In a large bowl, combine the haricots verts, scallions, and dill. Dress with the vinaigrette to suit your taste. Adjust the seasoning. Chill, tightly covered, in the refrigerator for an hour to let the flavors blend.
- Serve alone or on lettuce leaves.
“Black” haricots verts
Haricots Verts Vinaigrette with Scallions and Dill
We have been eating all of the produce we brought back from our Louisiana trip, and everything is nearly gone except for the sweet potatoes we bought in Texas. What luck! Sara Moulton, the current doyenne of American television cooks and noted cook book author, has a syndicated column in our local paper. This week her recipe was for sweet potato salad with a vinegar-based dressing instead of the usual white potato/mayonnaise mix that is so popular around the Fourth of July. I have made a few tweaks to her published recipe. She called for only a half of a chipotle, but my Southwestern background determined that I needed more pep, either with more chipotle or with hot sauce. The original was also a little monochromatic, so I added pimentos for color. Either her way or my way, I think you will find this a refreshing salad for hot summer days and evenings.
Sweet Potato, Grilled Corn and Black Bean Salad with Spicy Cilantro Dressing
Sweet potato, grilled corn and black bean salad
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1 small shallot, coarsely chopped
- 1 chipotle in adobo
- 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 cup rice vinegar
- salt and pepper
- 1½ pounds sweet potatoes (about 5 small), peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
- 3 ears fresh corn, husked and silk removed
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 4 scallions, whites and green tops, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces diced pimentos
- (optional Chalula or other hot sauce to taste)
- In a blender, combine the garlic, shallot, chipotle, cilantro, and rice vinegar. Puree until smooth. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer to a covered jar and set aside.
- In a large covered pot with a steamer basket, bring about 2 inches of water to the boil. Add the sweet potatoes, and steam, covered, until fork tender, about 8 minutes
- Transfer the steamed sweet potatoes to a large bowl. Pour half of the pureed dressing over the potatoes and mix well, being careful not to break up the potatoes. Set aside to cool.
- Brush the ears of corn lightly with the melted butter and then place on a hot grill. You can use your Santa Fe chile roasting grill for this operation. Roast the corn, turning frequently, until it is lightly charred on all sides. Transfer to a plate and cool until it can be handled easily.
- Hold each ear on its thick end on a cutting board, and using a sharp knife, cut the roasted corn kernels off the cobs. There will be 3 cups or more of corn kernels.
- When the sweet potatoes and corn have cooled, combine the dressed potatoes, corn, black beans, and pimentos. Add the remaining dressing and mix gently until everything is well combined. Adjust seasoning with additional salt, pepper and optional hot sauce.
- Serve warm or cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled and ready to serve.
In my last post, I mentioned that I had been charged with salad for a dinner party. The main course was going to be barbecued ribs. Potato salad seemed out as too heavy. Besides I wasn’t sure if someone else would bring that. It’s also no longer the season for pasta salad, so I thought about one of my old favorites, three-bean salad. Someone reminded me that it seemed sort of old-fashioned, but it still sounded good to me. Then I thought about quinoa. Light, refreshing, and a little bit unusual. I usually make it with gandules or pigeon peas, but they were nowhere to be found in the local markets, so I reconsidered the three-bean salad and decided to combine my two top options.
If you have never cooked with quinoa, you will find it to be an amazing ingredient. It is a seed that comes from plants originally grown in South America but now cultivated throughout the world. It is used like a grain, but it is not a grain so it does not have the gluten that so many people worry about these days. It is rich in protein and reportedly has all of the essential amino acids, so it certainly sounds healthy. You do need to be aware that it is also loaded with saponins. These are naturally occurring detergents that make the quinoa taste soapy if you don’t wash them off. Many pre-packaged quinoa products have had the saponin removed, but the detergent may still be present in bulk quinoa. In either case, it is probably a good idea to rinse the quinoa before you cook it. You can do this easily by placing the amount you plan to use in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse it under a spray of cold water until all of the foam subsides – maybe a minute or so. Drain it well and get ready to cook it. Besides being tasty, cooked quinoa is also beautiful. The seeds burst open and reveal a delicate little curl. My wife, the botanist, is not sure but thinks the curl is probably the endosperm.
Except for cooking the quinoa and preparing pickled mushrooms (as I described in my last post) this is pretty much a chop and dump recipe, so it is very easy to prepare.
Black, white, and red beans
Beans mixed with quinoa
Green, red, orange, and yellow bell peppers
Diced bell peppers
Mixed diced bell peppers
Cherry tomato halves
Quinoa, Mushroom, Corn and Three-Bean Salad
- 1 cup washed quinoa
- 2 cups water
- salt and white pepper
- 1 batch pickled mushrooms (see recipe in previous post)
- ½ red onion, diced
- ¼ cup each, green, red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, diced
- ½ cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen, cooked and drained
- 14.5 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
- 14.5 ounce can red or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 14.5 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- vinaigrette (recipe below)
- In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil and stir in the quinoa. Return to the boil, cover, and reduce heat to the simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes. The seeds should have absorbed all of the water, burst open, and tender. If they are not cooked, remove the lid and boil gently until all of the water is absorbed. Season with salt and white pepper, drain, cool, and place in a large bowl.
- Stir in the mushrooms, red onion, diced bell peppers, canned beans, corn, and cherry tomatoes.
- Dress the salad to taste with 4 to 6 tablespoons of vinaigrette. Chill until ready to serve.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, garlic powder, and salt and pepper
- Very slowly, a few drops at a time, whisk in the olive oil to form an emulsion.
- If the sauce separates, whisk it together again before dressing the salad.
I’m still working on emptying the freezer. I found more shrimp. I also had some leftover corn on the cob from a cookout the day before. With a can of black beans from the pantry, all of that seemed like the makings of a spring salad. For this recipe, you need to boil the shrimp in their shells, along with some crab boil. My choice is Zatarain’s liquid boil, because it is easy to use, but any brand will work. Don’t cook the shrimp too long or they will become tough. Chill them in ice water before you peel them, and then refrigerate until you are ready to use them. Prepare the corn by cutting the kernels off the cobs. A sharp knife is just fine for the job, but if you are a gadgeteer, you might have fun using a special device for removing the kernels while leaving a beautiful, symmetric cob.
Dress the salad with the accompanying chili-lime vinaigrette to complete the Southwestern slant of the salad. This should serve two to four.
Special corn-cutting tool
Bowl of salad ready to eat
Shrimp, Corn, and Black Bean Salad
- 10 16-20/pound frozen shrimp with shells, thawed
- 2 tablespoons liquid Zatarain’s crab boil
- 2 tablespoons salt
- 2 cooked ears of corn
- 1 can (14 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup chopped green bell pepper
- 2 ribs, celery, diced
- ½ medium red onion, diced
- ¼ cup pecan halves, chopped coarsely
- ¼ cup sliced black olives
- 2 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
- 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add the thawed shrimp to 4 quarts of boiling water to which has been added the salt and crab boil. Return to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and chill the shrimp in water and ice. When cool, peel the shrimp. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- With a sharp knife or circular corn cutter, cut the kernels off the corn cobs. Set aside until ready to assemble the salad.
- In a large bowl, combine the corn kernels, black beans, bell pepper, celery, onion, pecan pieces, and olives. Add the feta cheese crumbles and toss lightly.
- Dress with the chile-lime vinaigrette, toss lightly, and top with shrimp and tomato halves.
- Serve. Makes 2 to 4 servings
- 1 large lime, juiced
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground red chiles (your choice of heat)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon turbinado sugar
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- In a medium bowl, whisk the lime juice and mustard together untill well combined.
- Whisk in the dry ingredients until completely incorporated.
- Slowly, one tablespoon at a time, whisk in the olive oil. Make sure that each tablespoonful is completely incorporated before adding the next.
- Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper. Then use the entire recipe to dress the shrimp and vegetable salad. Serve immediately.