Monday, April 18, 2011

Southwestern Corn Salad

I got a little bit excited when I saw sweet corn in the grocery store. Yes, I get excited about a lot of different foods, but there's something extra exciting about seasonal produce. I tend to go a little overboard at farmer's markets and produce stands. How am I supposed to resist perfectly ripened produce? I think part of it is genetic (at least that's my excuse) since my dad has been known to buy a dozen avocados when it's just him and my mom at home. I'm not complaining though since my produce overloads generally lead to many kitchen experiments. This one, luckily, was a success.

I've been wanting to try out a chipotle-lime vinaigrette for a few weeks now. I researched a bunch of recipes and found one that seemed like it would be the best (with a few little tweaks of course). And what would go better with a chipotle-lime dressing than a grilled corn salad? Ok there's probably a lot of other great options, but this is what I came up with. It's the perfect side dish for any summer barbecue. You could even add some grilled chicken to the salad make it a light summer dinner.

For the salad I just combine a lot of my favorite Southwestern ingredients. You could omit or add anything you want to this salad and it would still be great since it's the vinaigrette that really makes it amazing. It has chipotle peppers in it, but the sugar takes away that really spicy flavor and leaves you with all the delicious chipotle and lime flavors. If you're planning on throwing some steak or burgers on the grill anytime soon, don't forget to make this salad as well.

Vinaigrette recipe adapted from Rick Bayless via PepperFool
Serves 4 to 6
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cooling time: 30 to 45 minutes

8 small to medium sized ears of corn
1 red pepper (yellow or orange are great as well)
4 plum tomatoes
1 avocado
1 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
Chipotle-Lime vinaigrette, recipe follows

Grill corn on medium-high heat until cooked through, about 15 minutes, rotating as needed. Cut the red pepper into quarters and grill until slightly charred, about 7 minutes. Once the corn and pepper have cooled down, cut the corn kernels off the cob and chop the pepper. Place in fridge and allow to cool, about 30 to 45 minutes. In the meantime, cut up the tomatoes and avocado into bite-size pieces (about 1/2" to 3/4" dice). In a bowl combine tomatoes, avocado, beans, red onion, cilantro, and cooled corn and pepper. Toss with the chipotle-lime vinaigrette.

Chipotle-Lime Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice (fresh)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons finely chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl, except the salt and pepper, and whisk together. Add as much salt and pepper as desired (I use very little).

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