A Mid-Winter Black Bean Salsa

salads-034When I think of fresh salsa, I think of fresh herbs and ripe summer tomatoes at their peak.  March is a long way from tomato season, so I decided to play around with a different sort of salsa, one that doesn’t rely on the usual fresh tomatoes for its base.

This salsa also had another requirement; it had to be one that could easily be prepared by children.   You see, I had a group of Cub Scouts coming to take one of my Connecticut cooking classes , and they’d selected a Mexican-themed menu.  While knife techniques are an important component of my adult classes, I don’t love the idea of a dozen 8 year olds wielding sharp instruments in my kitchen.

Being that it is still winter here in the Northeast, I chose ingredients which are readily available this time of year, and (mostly) do not require cutting.  My inspiration came from a black bean and corn salsa that used to be sold at Trader Joe’s, which sadly, was discontinued.  By using canned black beans, frozen corn kernels, and a few other colorful ingredients, I created a tasty, no-cook salsa perfect for topping the Cub Scouts’ “Bear Cub” Burritos, but just as good alongside grilled chicken, fish, or steak.

My four year old cutting the scallions.

My four year old cutting the scallions.

There is no getting around cutting the red pepper, so I prepped that before the boys arrived.  As for the garlic, one of my favorite short-cut items is the frozen minced garlic sold in mini ice-cube trays (the brand I buy is Dorot).  When cooking, it is fine to pop the frozen cubes right into your hot pan, but for this “raw” dish, I thaw the cubes out ahead of time.  Just whisk them into the lime juice and mix right into the salsa.  The last ingredient is the scallions.  I chose scallions because they can be cut with a sharp pair of kitchen shears, which are safe and fun for kids to use.  I have a special pair of herb scissors with multiple blades that makes the task at hand even more fun for the kids, as they watch all the perfect little green rings drop into the bowl as they snip away.

This salsa is a great mid-winter addition to your next Latin-inspired meal…just be sure to let the kids help out!

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Makes about 3 cups

  • 1 can canned black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels – thawed
  • 1/2 medium sweet red pepper, chopped (or, substitute ½ cup of chopped roasted red pepper)
  • 4 scallions (green part only)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a mixing bowl, toss together all the ingredients. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary.

Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes or refrigerated for at least one hour before serving.

Note:  This salsa can be made up to a day in advance.

Click here for more information about Tracy’s Connecticut cooking classes, or to read her The Secret Ingredient Blog.

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