Southwestern Black Bean, Corn, and Tomato Salad Recipe

While I was waiting for my salad to be mixed up the other day at a downtown lunch spot, a man next to me doing the same said to his salad creator that he needed it after all the state fair food. I hear ya! And, regardless of whether you showed restraint with the cheese curds and corn dogs or indulged like the world may be coming to an end, when you’re at home making your own meal, it’s a great time of year for working in the harvest of veggies from the backyard garden or farmers’ market, too.

Including beans in the mix with veggies is a great way to add protein. Cookbook author and nutrition writer Joyce Hendley, who contributed this recipe to Real Food, noted she likes to think of beans as protein with benefits, and without the baggage—of such food as meat, for example. They also offer healthy doses of folate, potassium, magnesium, and calcium—along with phytonutrients like flavonoids and anthocyanins, which nutrition research is starting to suggest might be protective against diseases such as cancer. All this for a moderate amount of calories (100 to 125 per half-cup) and almost no fat. Plus, the fiber in beans causes them to be digested more slowly, so a bean-rich meal will keep you satisfied longer.

Beans and corn are a natural pairing, and a healthy one: The amino acids of each complement one another to form a complete protein, notes Hendley. This easy-to-make guacamole-inspired salad pairs them with colorful tomatoes and buttery avocado—an irresistible combination that tastes even better a day later. Take some with you for lunch or a picnic, or serve it alongside something grilled or barbecued. And when sweet corn season ends, don’t hesitate to use cooked frozen corn instead. (If you top off your meal with some leftover saltwater taffy or little chocolate chip cookies it could all balance out, right?)

Southwestern Black Bean, Corn, and Tomato Salad

Serves 4

2 c. fresh sweet corn kernels (from 2 medium ears) or thawed frozen corn
12 tsp. salt, preferably kosher or other coarse salt
1 garlic clove, minced
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
12 avocado, cubed
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
14 c. chopped cilantro

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add corn and simmer until just tender, about 2 minutes; drain and let cool. (If using frozen corn, prepare according to package directions.)

Sprinkle salt over minced garlic on a cutting board and mash with the flat side of a large knife to make a paste.

Combine corn, garlic paste, beans, tomatoes, avocado, jalapeño, lime juice, and cilantro in a 5-cup non-reactive serving bowl; toss lightly. Let stand at least 10 minutes before serving to blend flavors.

Nutrition info (per serving): Calories 218 (41 from fat); Fat 5g (sat. 1g); Chol 0mg; Sodium 582mg; Carb 40g; Fiber 12g; Protein 9g

Mary Subialka is the editor of Real Food and Drinks magazines, covering the flavorful world of food, wine, and spirits. She rarely meets a chicken she doesn’t like, and hopes that her son, who used to eat beets and Indian food as a preschooler, will one day again think of real food as more than something you need to eat before dessert and be inspired by his younger brother, who is now into trying new foods.