This week we’re all about salads. But never fear, these are not limp salad leaves topped with a sad halved cherry tomato and slice of cucumber, nor an uninspiring pile of shredded iceberg lettuce. These are fresh, vibrant, interesting salads that are bursting with flavour and made for summer eating.
Today’s recipe is a sweetcorn salad. It’s sweet from corn and cherry tomatoes, savoury from onion and pepper, fragrant from coriander and zingy from lime juice. The dish can take on different guises, as the name suggests: keep the ingredients chunky as I did in order to serve it as a salad, or finely chop everything to turn it into a delicious salsa which could be served with tortilla chips. If you feel like something spicier then some finely chopped red chilli would be an excellent addition.
Ingredients 250g frozen sweetcorn 150g cherry tomatoes 6 spring onions Small bunch of coriander 1 red bell pepper 1 lime 1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper
Method 1. Remove the sweetcorn from the freezer and allow to defrost at room temperature for a few hours. Quarter the tomatoes, chop the spring onion into small pieces and finely chop the coriander. If you forget about the red pepper (read: I forgot to buy a red pepper) then just chop it into squares and add to the salad later!
This dish is the ideal side dish for a barbecue. The first time I made it we had it with chicken marinated in my homemade barbecue sauce and sticky glazed sausages, and the second was as part of a Spanish meal alongside barbecued paella and some small tapas dishes. It would transport well in a tupperware tub for a picnic, or, as I suggested above, chop it finely and serve as a starter. I think this just might be my new favourite summer salad!
Disclaimer: it’s hard enough to make guacamole photogenic, but when it comes to a brown-coloured bean dip it’s pretty much impossible.
And with my camera skills we’re not off to the best start anyway. But please believe me when I say, if you could taste these two dishes you would be running out to the shops to stock up on pinto beans and forage for ripe avocados (Good luck to you on that last part, by the way. Like, seriously. I had a last minute panic on Thursday night because the 6 avocados someone picked out in the shop were all rock hard, so shoved them in a dark cupboard inside a brown paper bag snuggled up with some ripe bananas. I can’t say the results the next day were astounding, but it did the job well enough).
Anyway, I digress. I made these dips as accompaniments to the Mexican meal we had on my birthday last Friday, but feel free to have these with whatever meal you fancy. Personally, I could eat guacamole straight from the bowl. Sack that actually – just give me a ripe avocado, salt and a spoon and I’m in heaven.
There are so many variations of guacamole out there, so this is just my personal taste. I like my guacamole with bags of flavour from other ingredients aside from avocados and enough lime juice to keep a crew of sailors healthy. The bean dip originally came from our lovely friend Julia and is perfect served with tortilla chips and one (or two) margaritas.
Ingredients (makes a lot! – enough for 12 people as a side) 6 avocados 3 tomatoes 2 small red onions 3 garlic cloves 2/3 red chilli Half a bunch of coriander 1 ½ limes
Salt and pepper
1. Halve the avocados and remove the stone. Scoop out the avocado flesh with a spoon – this should be pretty easy if the avocados are ripe. Mash in a large bowl with a fork
2. Finely chop the red onions, garlic, chilli and coriander and mix into the mashed avocado.
3. If you can be bothered, skin the tomatoes. I think this gives a nicer texture to the guacamole, but is definitely not essential. Do this by dropping the tomatoes into a pan of boiling water for 30 seconds and then peeling back the skin – again this should be pretty easy if the tomatoes are ripe. Remove the seeds (also not essential but will avoid a sloppy texture), chop and add to the guacamole.
4. Mix in the juice of one lime and season generously with salt and pepper. Adjust the balance of lime, salt and pepper to taste.
If you’re not serving this immediately then pour over the juice of half a lime in order to stop the guacamole browning, cover in cling film and pop in the fridge. Definitely eat on the day of making.
Zingy Bean Dip
Ingredients (makes a lot!) 2 tins of pinto beans, or other similar beans like borlotti beans 2 tomatoes Garlic cloves 2 limes Half a bunch of coriander Half a bunch of parsley 2 spring onions 2 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper
Method 1. Skin the tomatoes following the instructions in the recipe above. 2. Chop the spring onion, garlic cloves and herbs. 3. Drain the beans and add all the ingredients to a large bowl or blender. Liquidise or blend, depending on what equipment you have to hand. Adjust the seasoning to taste.
I had a really wonderful birthday, made so special by the company, the fabulous presents, the (strong) margaritas expertly made by dad…
…and this spectacular chocolate cake made by the ridiculously talented Kirsten…
Still dreaming about that buttercream filling…