Some food, some drink.
This is why you stock a pantry: Easy Corn and Black Bean Salsa.
Sometimes, there just isn't time for anything more than "dump a can and go". However, by choosing the right ingredients, even lowly canned food has the potential to become something wonderful. A can of black beans, a can of tomatoes and chiles, and a bag of frozen corn lay the foundation to carry a slightly spicy and smoky-sweet dressing that turns so much pedestrian pantry fare into something that's downright difficult to stop eating.
It was on the eve of another family taco night, and I was without salsa. With dinner looming, there was simply no time to roast veggies for a proper homemade tomato, onion and chile joint. Usually I keep a jar of pre-made supermarket fare in the pantry for emergencies, but on this occasion, I was outta luck. No salsa, no time to make salsa, and t-minus 15 minutes to taco time. These are the times it pays with dividends to have a well-stocked pantry. With a bag of frozen corn and a handful of cans, I was able to throw together a corn and black bean salsa in less than ten minutes. With plenty of flavor on the quick, this salsa is a condimental flavor force to be reckoned with.
Recipe: Jump to the detailed recipe. (or, keep reading for the gist of it) -
What's Canned and Bagged
Dump the thawed and drained corn, rinsed and drained beans, the drained tomatoes and chiles, and the sliced olives into a large bowl. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the cider vinegar, olive oil, adobo, demerara sugar, salt, black pepper, cumin, coriander, cilantro,and garlic. Let it all adjust in the bowl for about 5 minutes before giving it another whisk to fully integrate. Stir the dressing into the veg and beans and serve immediately, or pop in the fridge until you're ready to do so.
- I'm not gonna argue with you about the virtue of frozen vs. canned vegetables. Nine outta ten times, frozen veggies will taste fresher and retain more of their vitamins after being processed. Plus, if you follow the sale cycles you can reasonably stockpile up to about three months' worth in your cryo-chamber and save big! Cans are for tomatoes (and beans when you don't have 90 minutes).
- Y'know what I can't stand? Electric Can openers. Magnets for cross-contamination, and a counter-top eyesore. Get yourself a decent handheld model, wash it regularly, dry it thoroughly, and plan to replace it every couple of years.
- This recipe makes a ton of condiment. It's good on the first day, but even better if you've got time to let it marinade a day in that vinaigrette.
- If you want more spice, you can add a diced chipotle (or two) along with the adobo. Like it less spicy? Leave the adobo out altogether.
- Don't throw out what's drained from the tomatoes and chiles. That's just enough liquid oomph to really perk up twelve ounces of pilsner. Add a lime wedge and you got yourself a first class makeshift Michelada.
This corn and black bean salsa works on soooo many levels. Oh sure it's fast, but it's also remarkably balanced, even when served a la minute. Sweet, salty, spicy, and kissed with a hint of smoky heat: There's not a tortilla chip within eye-shot that'll stand a chance. As for the myriad of other applications, quesadilla filling and taco toppers are the first that come to mind. Toss some surplus in with your leftover taco night rice, and you'll have a completely new side for the next dinner.
It's also important to note here that this is a great way to get people in your house to eat their veggies. The sweetness of the corn and the dressing itself takes the punch out of the adobo, leaving just enough heat to let you know that this salsa is something you're gonna wanna spoon over your next batch of barbacoa. My six-year-old son wolfed down a whole mess of this stuff, and questions of taste were allayed with an emphatic thumbs up from the little guy (he knows it's not polite to talk with food in your mouth).