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July 28, 2009

A Downeast Southwest Salad

It’s late July, and we’re just getting our first taste of heat and humidity. When the weather’s like this, all I can muster for dinner are simple, fresh, cooling salads.

A few years ago, the New York Times featured a list of 101 Simple Meals Ready in 10 Minutes or Less. I highlighted the twenty or so that struck my fancy and played around with them all summer. This salad, a variation on #39, is the one meal on the list that’s stuck with me. I make it regularly this time of year, since it offers a refreshing balance of smokey, sweet, and citrus flavors. It also makes great use of late summer produce; you can probably find everything but the limes at your farmers’ market.

Southwestern Corn and Black Bean Salad
10 cups chopped lettuce (butter, bibb, Boston, red or green leaf)
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 medium tomato, diced
2 ears corn (or 1½ cups frozen kernels)
1½ cups cooked black beans, rinsed
4 scallions, sliced
¼ cup cilantro leaves, rinsed
Optional:
tortilla chips
sliced avocado
sliced jalapeño peppers
lime wedges

Cilantro-Lime Dressing
½ cup cilantro
¼ cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon lime juice
½ teaspoon minced garlic
Shuck corn and steam for 10-12 minutes, until tender. Run ears under cool water until they can be comfortably handled. Cut kernels away from cob. (If using frozen corn, defrost.)

To prepare dressing, place cilantro, olive oil, lime juice, and garlic in a blender and purée.

In a large serving bowl or four individual salad bowls, layer lettuce, red pepper, tomato, corn, black beans, scallions, and cilantro. Top with cilantro-lime dressing and any additional ingredients.

Serves 4.

Mary Lake is a writer, teacher, columnist for MF&L, and vegetarian blogger: Mitten Machen

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