As I've watched each of our jalapeno chillies grow and ripen I've been thinking about what I might do with them first. This time last year we were packing up our life in NZ all ready to make the move over the ditch so I hadn't bothered planting much in our garden that summer. The year before I pickled most of our crop and then savoured each one throughout the year adding them to salads, sandwiches and pizza's alike. If you have been reading for some time you will have noticed I have a thing for chillies and while I often go for the almighty knock-out effect of birds eye chillies it is the jalapeno that I love the most. It's mellow heat means you get to taste the actual chilli and are perfect added to all sorts of dishes, especially those with ties to South and Central America, namely mexico.
With that in mind I put together a fresh summer salad recently, filled with a bunch of my favourite things; freshly cooked black beans, pan-cooked corn, coriander (cilantro), fresh jalapenos, avocado and feta, all tossed around in a good dose of freshly squeezed lime and extra virgin olive oil. Yes I know, you may be wondering where the avocado is in these photos?! I totally forgot to add it when taking these photos only to remember later as I sat down to eat...
If you don't have access to fresh jalapeno chillies, pickled would work just as good, possibly even better and if you don't eat dairy at all or are vegan simply omit the feta and season perfectly with sea salt instead. This salad is one of those instances where you really need to season correctly, taste and adjust as you go along, adding more salt, lime juice or olive oil as needed. Trust your instincts.
I've been pulling off chillies as they ripen saving them in the fridge until I've got enough to pickle. I can't wait! I use this recipe from David Lebovitz, and I'm hoping to get a good few jars done by the end of summer.
Update: Ada had a great first week at school, she's tired but happy. Kye's first day at kindy left us both in tears, but he had a great day after that rough start and by day two happily reported back to me "kindy's as cool as can be mum", so all's good!
black bean, corn and coriander salad
I prefer to use freshly cooked black beans, especially in salads like this where they are taking centre stage, but of course you can also get away with using good quality tinned ones too. Just make sure you rinse them well to remove as much of that salty brine as possible, and drain before using.
serves 2 as a main or more as a side
- 2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
- 1 medium red onion, finely diced
- 1 small capsicum (any colour), finely diced
- 1 corn cob, husk and silk removed, kernels cut from the cob with a sharp knife
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups cooked black beans (see below) or 1x 400g tin black beans, rinsed well and drained
- Juice 1 lime, plus extra to serve
- 1-2 fresh jalapeno chillies, finely diced
- 1/2 cup coriander (cilantro) leaves
- 1 perfectly ripe avocado, diced, optional
- crumbled feta to serve, optional
Heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium/high heat, add onion, capsicum and corn kernels. Cook for 5-8 minutes stirring often until everything is tender and the corn has a few flecks of golden-near-burnt bits around the edges. Add the oregano and cook for a further minutes until fragrant. Remove from the heat and season well with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add the black beans, lime juice, diced jalapenos and another little splash of extra virgin olive oil. Stir through coriander (cilantro) and check for seasoning, adding a little more sea salt and black pepper if needed to make those flavours really pop.
Serve salad topped with diced avocado (which I forgot to add when taking these photos but remembered later on when it came time to eat!), a crumbling of feta (if desired/tolerated) and lime wedges to squeeze over.
* To cook black beans; soak beans overnight in plenty of cold water. The next day drain and rinse. Cover with fresh water, bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer and cook until soft but not mushy, anywhere from 30-60 minutes. Season with a little sea salt in the last 5 minutes of cooking, no earlier or the skin with never soften up. Drain and use or cool and freeze for later use.