Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Born on the 4th of July

As the guest list for the 4th of July Ultimate Rib Extravaganza was falling into place, it became clear—appetizers were a must. I dipped into my “Recipes for a Hoard” file and pulled out the tried and true Black Bean Salsa. Many permutations of this recipe have been served at various events, and the 4th of July Ultimate Rib Extravaganza wasn’t going to be the exception. Celebrating the 4th was going to be a weekend long event, with houseguests, dinner guests, and then the big event on the 4th. Planning ahead was going to be essential if I was going to be prepared and not a frantic mess.

Saturday morning found us at the local Farmer’s Market. DH carved a straight line to his cousin’s stand, Gizmo’s Pickled Plus and settled in. The rest of us scattered taking in the ambiance and variety of the Market. A tap on my shoulder found Bella at my elbow with our good friend Jo in tow, a truly delightful surprise, which turned into two more for dinner. It had been far too long since we had enjoyed Jo and Angel’s company; they would be a welcome addition to our al fresco dinner party.

Several hours later we arrived home laden with our purchases, and attempted to cram them into an already burgeoning refrigerator. We took a short break and began the day’s real work—preparing food.

In addition to preparing for the 4th of July Ultimate Rib Extravaganza there were now additional preparations to make for dinner. Another pound of hamburg needed thawing, and I wondered if someone needed to go out for more sweet corn. I lingered on that for about two seconds before I was distracted and off in another direction. The kitchen was bustle of activity. My nephew Wort was making ice cream and sorbet, Adele was doing the ribs, I was making pies and lists, and Bella and Christy were in the dining room coloring and accusing each other of monopolizing crayons in between doing the dishes.

Around 5 o’clock everyone was starving, and dinner was still a ways off. Out came the ingredients for Black Bean Salsa. I whipped together this and some Dilled White Bean Spread, arranged everything in a cloth-lined basket and brought it to the porch. Wort opened a growler of beer and everyone settled in for a good gnosh. It was all delicious, but what the blazing sun would be served for appetizers tomorrow?!

The next morning I pulled the remnants of the Black Bean Salsa from the fridge--not much left. It was time to forage. There were a couple ears of corn-on-the-cob left from the previous night’s dinner. There was still a tomato or two, a variety of peppers, lots of fresh cilantro, a ripe avocado, limes, and a can of black beans-- a veritable treasure trove. What I didn’t have were chips. Bella and Wort made a supply run and we were good to go. So, here it is--Black Bean & Corn Salsa, born on the 4th of July.

Notes for this recipe: The Salsa will be best when made ahead of time giving the flavors time to develop and meld. More or less cilantro, garlic, and cumin can be added to suit your palate. The avocado can be omitted. The picture shows Black Bean & Corn Salsa from our Saturday night festivities. Click on "cooked corn" below for the link on this blog for cooking corn how to.

4th of July Black Bean and Corn Salsa

1 avocado peeled, pitted & diced
Zest & juice of 1 lime
2 15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 ears of cooked corn, kernels cut from the cob (or 1 c. frozen, thawed or 1 c. canned, drained)
½ red pepper, seeded & diced
½ yellow pepper, seeded & diced
¼ green pepper, seeded & diced
1 tomato, sliced & diced
2 Tbsp. green onion tops, minced
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
1/3 c. chopped cilantro
2 tsp. cumin
Kosher salt
White & Blue corn chips

Put the diced avocado in a small bowl. Pour the lime juice over and gently stir with a rubber spatula. Add the zest. Set aside.

In a larger bowl combine the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Add the avocado & lime juice mixture. Stir gently to combine. Season with salt to taste. Scrape into a serving bowl and set aside for an hour. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Line a basket with a towel. Set the serving bowl in the basket and surround with chips and serve.


  1. The whole day sounds really good... as usual. ;)
    I make something like this on a weekly basis to keep in the fridge and eat with blue corn chips. We call it Cowboy Caviar.

  2. Do wish you could have been here. Love Cowboy Caviar--what a terrific name!!