When an easy flavor-packed salad is also salsa

Is it salad, salsa or both?

While shopping at my local grocery cooperative (members financially support the store), I came across a storemade Black Bean and Corn Salad. It looked delicious and made with Don-friendly ingredients, like olive oil, not vegetable oil, so I bought a pint.

I work from home, so that salad made for a tasty part of my lunch. However, it was not inexpensive at $5.99 a pound. So, I decided to make a similar salad to keep the price down since I am supplying the labor.

I did not have a recipe, so I searched the internet. Interestingly, the Food Network had three options from Valerie Bertinelli, Sunny Anderson and Brian Boitano. Each one required grilling fresh corn on the cob to make their salads.

Since I no longer own a grill, that was out. The good news for me: I had found a source for frozen grilled corn.

Cilantro was common to all the black bean and corn salad recipes I found. The final recipe I used as the basis for my salad came from Jennifer Olvera at I went with it since every recipe I have prepared from there has worked out wonderfully well.

Olvera called for crumbled corn chips at the end, which seemed like a good idea, except it was not what I wanted. Olvera did not use red sweet pepper or garlic as other recipes did, so I added those for their color and flavor.

Olvera also used ancho chili powder, which I did not have. I substituted a medium-heat chili powder. Plus, I went with a finely diced fresh jalapeño pepper to kick the heat up and balance the sweet notes from the red pepper.

All the recipes used lime juice, the same as my store-bought salad. Olvera used olive oil and cumin in her salad. I had the oil and seasonings on hand and a can of organic black beans.

The salad requires some slicing, dicing and chopping, but the fresh ingredients make it well worth it.

Once I made my salad, I covered the bowl and chilled it for an hour to let the flavors mesh and bloom.

How did it turn out? We had it at dinner that night, and Nan liked it so much that she asked if we could have it on the side with dinner the next night.

Is it a salad? Certainly. However, some of the recipes I saw also called it a salsa, for which it could certainly be used, too.

Either way, it is a definite winner.

• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at

Low-Hassle Black Bean and Roasted Corn Salad

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 medium lime, juiced (about 1 tablespoon)

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar

1 medium garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon medium-heat chili powder

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1 14.5-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 medium red onion, finely diced

1/2 large red bell pepper, finely diced

1 1/2 cups frozen roasted corn, thawed

1 jalapeño pepper, finely chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

In a medium glass mixing bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, pepper, chile powder and cumin until combined.

Add the beans, onion, red pepper, corn, jalapeño and cilantro and stir and fold until combined.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight. Can be served cold or at room temperature.

Serves 6

Nutrition values per serving: 133 calories (21.6% from fat), 3.2 g fat (0.3 g saturated fat), 21.8 g carbohydrates (16.9 net carbs), 4.7 g sugars, 4.9 g fiber, 6.2 g protein, 0 mg cholesterol, 304 mg sodium.

– Don Mauer

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