In high school while browsing for recipes for a Mother’s Day brunch, I was struck by a colorful sounding 'Stoplight Salad' in my Mom’s copy of Simply in Season. My sister and I added it to our Mother’s Day menu that year, and it became a family staple. Through the years, I have created my own version with a bit more of a Southwest flair, swapping in a potent lime-cumin vinaigrette and handfuls of herbs and fruit for contrast. In college, when I needed a dish for a potluck with some Amish friends, I didn’t think twice before whipping up my Southwest Black Bean Salad…what had seemed like a good idea in my dorm room started making me nervous when I saw my garishly bright salad sitting amidst a table of creamy noodle casseroles. Before I could withdraw my food offering, the head cook stuck her spoon in my salad, and I was given a nod of approval, I quietly let out my breath and tried to act nonchalant. Southwest Black Bean Salad is a pungent, bright, and refreshing salad with corn, tomatoes, herbs, and a customizable base of seasonal vegetables and fruit. It has been my most requested recipe over the years, and is an infinity adaptable salad that will be devoured every time. I’d love to hear your favorite combinations! To read more about Simply in Season and our other favorite cookbooks, check out our Bookshelf.
Yield: serves 8-10
- 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed (substitute any bean you’ve got on your shelf)
- 1 pound fresh or frozen corn (substitute frozen peas in a pinch!)
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 green bell peppers, cut into small pieces
- 2-3 cups mango, cut into small pieces (substitute peaches, nectarines, or papaya)
- 2-3 cups cucumber, cut into small pieces (substitute or add avocado, green beans, radishes, carrots, or celery)
- 5 green onions, thinly sliced (substitute red onion, shallot, garlic scapes, or chives)
- 1 large bunch cilantro, washed and finely chopped (substitute basil, parsley, or oregano)
- 1-2 jalapeños, seeds removed, finely minced (optional)
Lime Cumin Vinaigrette:
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 6-8 limes)
- 4 tablespoons cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 5 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika or chipotle powder
- 1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
- For the lime cumin vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients (lime, vinegar, oil, cumin, salt, pepper, garlic, chipotle, and oregano). Set aside.
- For the salad: In your largest mixing or serving bowl, mix together the salad ingredients (beans, corn, tomatoes, peppers, mango, cucumber, jalapeño, green onions, and cilantro).
- Pour over the lime cumin vinaigrette and stir the salad to combine.
- Let the bean salad rest an hour prior to serving to allow the flavors time to develop.
- Taste the salad prior to serving and add additional salt, lime or vinegar, this is a pungent salad, so don’t be afraid to add more punch!
- The leftovers keep well for 1 day, the herbs don’t fare too well after that. The leftovers will make for a great succotash or are delicious stuffed in peppers and baked with cheese.