Summer Corn Salad

Today’s the first official day of summer, and it’s a scorcher! I made a corn salad to cool  off.

I’ve had a version of  this with black beans, but I like pintos better.  My husband Jesus says leave out the beans altogether. You do what you want.

Use a ripe yet firm avocado and stir gently unless you want a guacamole texture. The lime and Tajín chili powder add zing.

Eat as a salad or as a dip with tortilla chips.
Serves 3:

3 cobs of corn

1 avocado – ripe yet firm

1 red bell pepper

3 Tb (to taste salsa), such as salsa casera

¼ cup Frijoles pintos (Mexican pinto beans) (optional)

½ tsp (to taste) sea salt

2 Tb (to taste) fresh cilantro leaves

Juice of one lime

chili powder or Tajín (chili powder with salt and lime)

Boil corn until done, about 10 minutes. Let cool. You can do this ahead of time. Using a large sharp knife on a cutting board, strip the kernels off the cobs.

Chop red pepper, and cilantro leaves and stir into corn. Stir in beans, salsa, salt and lime juice. Slice the avocado and gently stir in or it will smoosh! Sprinkle with Tajín or chili powder.

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Blushing Hummus bi tahinah


The Arabic word hummusحمّص means chickpeas or garbanzo beans. It’s the main player in the popular Middle Eastern dip of the same name. Add some tahini (sesame butter),  lemon juice, red pepper for a nice blush, and a garlic clove, a bit of olive oil and water, sprinkle in salt and a dash or two of cayenne pepper for a bit of zing, top with a small handful of pine nuts, and you have an easy and tasty dip for a crudite plate or pita bread spread.

I got my beans from a local Middle Eastern market (Indus Foods in Berkeley) for 33 cents; the whole dip cost about $1, much cheaper and fresher than shelling out $4 for the commercial version.

Makes about 1 1/3 cups

1 clove garlic

1/4 fresh  red bell pepper. Roasted red peppers work well also – use one.

1 15-oz can garbanzo beans, drained

¼ cup tahini

¼ cup lemon juice (one medium lemon)

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, plus 1 Tb to pour on top.

1 Tb water

shake of cayenne to taste

¼ tsp salt, to taste

2-3 Tb toasted pine nuts (pignolias)

1 teaspoon finely chopped cilantro to garnish

Peel garlic and mince in food processor using blade. Add rest of ingredients except pine nuts, and run processor for at least a minute until hummus is smooth. Sprinkle pine nuts on top. If desired, pour a bit of olive oil on top and garnish with cilantro.

Serve with carrot or celery  sticks, cucumber, jicama and red bell pepper spears, pita chips, or wedges of toasted pita bread.

Makes a great sandwich spread on pita or olive bread with cucumber slices.

Mardi Gras Red Beans

I made these  beans for our Mardi Gras potluck at work using Andouille (Ahn-DUE-we)  sausages, which add a spicy Cajun flavor. It’s traditionally a smoked pork sausage, brought to Louisiana by Acadian settlers. I didn’t want to eat too much pork, so bought two kinds: Niman Ranch Pork and Smoked Chicken from Open Nature (by Lucerne foods -Safeway). I liked the chicken links the best; they were spicy and not as greasy as the pork, and they were cheaper too. Trader Joe’s chicken Andouille is even better and spicier.

Fresh produce and herbs are best, but with winter prices so high for the fresh, I substituted frozen bell peppers and basil from Trader Joe’s. If using fresh basil, add it at the end of cooking.  My thyme and oregano plants are sending out new leaves, so I used them fresh.

2 Tb olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

4 minced garlic cloves

4 medium stalks celery, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped, seeds, stem and membrane removed (or substitute 1 cup frozen)

2 jalapeño peppers, remove seeds, stem and membrane and finely dice

1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, minced

3 T fresh Italian parsley

1 Tb fresh basil, julienned, or  1 cube frozen basil

1 Tb fresh oregano, diced

6 Andouille sausages, quartered lengthwise, then sliced crosswise

2 bay leaves

½  tsp red pepper flakes

10 cups water or chicken broth

4 cups dried red kidney beans

¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper

salt to taste after beans are cooked

Bring water or chicken broth to a boil. If using water, use a teakettle (I had to fill the teakettle twice). Heat oil in a large heavy pot. Sauté onions, jalapeño, celery and bell pepper until soft, then add sausages and seasonings and sauté on medium heat for about 15 minutes, stirring often. Add the hot water or chicken broth. Rinse beans well, removing broken beans and any stones, and add to water or chicken broth. Let boil for 15 minutes, stirring well to loosen any ingredients from the bottom. Pour into crock pot and let it cook all day or night, depending on whether you start it in the morning or in the evening.

When beans are tender, add 2 to 3 tsp salt to taste. Cook at least ½ hour more to let the beans and broth absorb the salt. Stir in fresh basil and parsley.

Serve over rice and with a piece of cornbread.

Nutritional Info
  • Servings Per Recipe: 20
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 97.6
  • Total Fat: 4.4 g
  • Cholesterol: 8.6 mg
  • Sodium: 677.1 mg
  • Total Carbs: 10.1 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 3.7 g
  • Protein: 4.8 g

Frijoles pintos (Mexican pinto beans)

¡Frijoles! Mexican Pinto Beans

This recipe evolved from my mother-in-law’s frijoles al charro. She made hers with bacon to flavor the beans. I usually omit the bacon, but it’s good either way. The chipotle powder and smoked paprika give it a nice smokiness.  It’s a favorite of my friends and family.

There are many opinions  in this family about cooking beans. My husband is  insistent about not soaking the beans first, as he swears that takes away the flavor. I boil the beans with all the flavorings on the theory that they will soak up the flavors. My mother-in-law says the garlic will help eliminate the gas from the beans. She told me never to put salt in until the end because it will toughen the beans. And I add cocoa powder to bring out the flavor of the chilies, just as the ancient Aztecs did.

Add chipotle powder to taste depending on how spicy you like it. I pick mine up at Mexican markets in the cellophane packets. If you can’t find chipotle powder, you can add a one or two whole dried chipotles, and snap off the stems before adding them.

8 cups of water

1 chopped onion

4 minced garlic cloves

2 – 4 tsp. chipotle powder (to taste)

1 tsp. smoked paprika (optional)

1 Tb. cumin powder (comino)

1 tsp. cocoa powder

2 tsp. dried oregano

1 diced Roma (plum) tomato

1 diced bell pepper or 1 cup frozen diced bell peppers

3 cups dry pinto beans

2-3 tsp. salt to taste

Wash beans thoroughly, checking that there are no stones.

Heat water to boil in large pot.

Add  chopped onion, garlic and seasonings.

When water is boiling again, add beans and boil for a minute or two.

Pour into a crock pot. Cook on low until very tender, usually 5 hours. You can make it in the evening and let it cook overnight or make it in the morning and it will be ready for dinner. Add 2-3 tsp salt to taste when cooked. Serve with fresh cilantro, either queso cotija, queso fresco, cheddar or jack cheese, and chopped onion if desired.  Serve with warm corn tortillas.

Excellent for making tostadas. Simply mash well-cooked beans with the pot liquor, no frying necessary.

Vegetarian/ Vegan tacos: Fill a warmed tortilla with beans, fresh tomato, avocado and cilantro. Top with salsa and a shake of sea salt.

Store beans in small containers in the freezer. Sure beats opening a can!