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.

Add salsa and tajin to taste, or not at all.

Use a ripe yet firm avocado and stir gently unless you want a guacamole texture. The lime and Tajín (chili powder with salt and lime) 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

handful of cherry tomatoes. Halve any larger ones.

2 Tb (to taste) fresh cilantro leaves

Juice of one lime

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

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

Tajín  (optional)

Directions:

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I microwave the corn in the cob. Run water over the corn  and place on a plate with a paper towel over them. Microwave for 5 minutes on high. You may need to do one or two at a time. If you don’t have a microwave, boil the corn about 10 minutes. Let cool. You can do this ahead of time and refrigerate. Using a large sharp knife in a large bowl, strip the kernels off the cobs.

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

Tostadas

This easy tostada recipe is crisp with fresh vegetables and is low in fat and calories.  I heat the tortillas in a comal or in the oven until crispy, instead of frying them as is traditionally done.  I put minimal cheese on top and skip the sour cream.  It is delicious made with homemade pinto beans : see my recipe Frijoles pintos (Mexican pinto beans

I have made this with leftover roasted chicken breast. See my recipe:  Roast Chicken

I add 1/4 cup salsa and 1 tsp cumin (comino) and heat it up. I’ve also made it  with  well-drained chicken breast that has been cooked in enchilada sauce (leftover from making enchiladas.)

Serves 4 people ( 8 tostadas)

8 corn tortillas

1 1/2 cup pinto beans

1 cup chopped cooked chicken breast. (You can eliminate this if you want a vegetarian tostada.)

1 ear roasted corn

¼ cup salsa and 1 tsp cumin  (if using roasted chicken breast),

salsa to put on top (to taste)

¼ head crisp lettuce such as iceberg or romaine

½ cup chopped cilantro

1 large tomato or 2 small tomatoes

1 red bell pepper

black olives if desired

¼ cup grated Colby-jack cheese and/or crumbled cotija cheese

1 large avocado

1 tsp lime juice

salt to taste

Heat oven to 450’ Place corn tortillas on the oven rack or on a cookie sheet. Let bake for about 8 minutes until light brown and crispy. Alternatively, heat on comal on medium heat until crispy

Mash pinto beans with pot liquor. Heat in microwave or in oiled frying pan.

Chop roasted chicken. Add salsa and reheat in microwave for 1 minute, or in frying pan until warm. If using chicken cooked enchilada sauce, drain well or your tostadas will be soggy!

Slice kernels from corn cob

Shred lettuce, chop cilantro, red bell pepper, and tomatoes.

Grate Colby-jack cheese and/or crumble cotija cheese.

Make guacamole or simply slice or mash avocado with a sprinkling of salt and lime juice.

Assemble Tostadas:

Spread beans on crispy tortillas. Add 1 tsp. Colby-jack cheese and let it melt into beans. Add chicken.

Top with corn, lettuce, tomatoes, red bell pepper, cilantro and tomato, avocado or guacamole, and olives if desired. Crumble a bit of cotija cheese on top if desired. Add salsa to taste.

Frijoles pintos (Mexican pinto beans)

¡Frijoles! Mexican Pinto Beans

These beans are a favorite of my friends and family. 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 and smoked paprika give it a nice smokiness. You can either use powdered chipotle or a whole one. I discard the chili after cooking.

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.

epazoteI sometimes add epazote leaves, which are popular in southern Mexican cooking. My mother in-law, who came from northern Mexico, didn’t use them. They have a sharp smell, akin to turpentine, but they adds wonderful flavor to the beans and are supposed to eliminate gas and bloating. I add them to the beans towards the end of cooking since they don’t stand up to cooking for a long period. If you buy a bunch, you can chop the rest and freeze in an ice cube tray with water.

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I also made these beans in my 6 quart Instant Pot Duo. I did not heat the water ahead of time, just put cold water, beans and seasonings directly into the pot. I set it for 50 minutes pressure cook and let pressure release naturally. The whole process took about 2 hours.

Ingredients

1 chopped onion

1 diced bell pepper (green and/or red) or 1 cup frozen diced bell peppers

4 minced garlic cloves

8 cups of water 

1/2 – 1 tsp. chipotle powder (to taste) or 1 dried chipotle pepper

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1 tsp. cumin powder (comino)

1 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder

2 tsp. dried oregano

2 Bay leaves

1 diced Roma (plum) tomato

1 sprig of epazote leaves, chopped, stems discarded

3 cups dry pinto beans

2-3 tsp. salt to taste

Wash beans thoroughly, checking that there are no stones.

beans with epazote stirred in

Add water and seasonings (except salt) and bring it to boil. Add beans and  boil for 5 minutes.

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. (If you are short on time you can cook it on high.)

As noted above, skip the boiling and cook in Instant Pot for 50 minutes, using Natural Pressure Release.

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.

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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!