I hope you all are enjoying beautiful weather right now, wherever you may be. Currently, San Francisco is gorgeous, and sporting absolutely phenomenal weather (think high 60’s and sunshine). This is the kind of weather that makes you want to host a barbecue in your backyard and eat colorful, delicious salads.
Which is a segue into the salad I am presenting to all of you today: Cowboy Caviar. To clarify, Cowboy Caviar is the nickname of salads that usually are comprised of beans, tomatoes, onions, corn, cilantro, and (oftentimes) avocado. As you can see from the somewhat grainy snapshot of pinterest below, there are a million different recipes for Cowboy Caviar. My recipe today is a simple take of my own, with the ingredients I had on hand and personally wanted to include.
- 1 can black beans, washed and drained
- 1 can corn kernels, drained
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 tomatoes, diced and de-seeded
- 2 avocados, diced
- 1/2 lime
- salt and pepper
Your first step will be to wash and drain your black beans. I personally prefer to let them drain and dry while preparing the rest of the dish just to get as little leftover water in my salad as possible. Once you’ve washed the “bean juice” off of these delectable protein-filled morsels, put them aside for later.
Open your can of corn, and drain thoroughly. Corn is one of my favorite vegetables because of its beautifully bright color, and the sweetness that it adds to a dish. Not to mention, it’s delicious. Pour your beans and corn carefully into the container you plan to use for serving/storing your Cowboy Caviar. Set aside.
Now turn to your beautiful, big red onion, and chop it in half. A friend of mine once joked that the secret to not crying when cutting an onion is to not get emotionally attached to it. Trust me,that doesn’t work.
I loosely chopped my onions as I didn’t want them to be too fine, but I also didn’t want to just bite into huge chunks of eye-watering onion. The beauty of red onions is that they can be a little sweeter than regular white onions, which will make it meld better with the rest of the salad. Go ahead and add your onions to the salad once they’re chopped.
Next, we need to take the seeds out of your tomato, chop up the tomato, and add it to the salad. I chose to remove the seeds in the middle for a cleaner presentation, as well as to make the salad less liquid. As you can see on the right, I kept the pieces rather large in size.
As soon as you’ve chopped those onions and tomatoes, go ahead and add it to your container. The beautiful part about Cowboy Caviar is that it is full of lively colors and textures that make it all that much more fun. I’ll admit, I spent a good few minutes taking ridiculous amounts of photos of my salad at this point, even though it was not finished, just because of how mesmerized I was by these varicolored vegetables!
Once you can tear your eyes away from bright yellows and purples and reds, turn to the greens. Gently tear the leaves off of your sprigs of cilantro, and collect them on your cutting board. Then, using one hand as a guide on the top, non-sharp edge of your knife, loosely and gently chop up the cilantro. I don’t like to mince my cilantro for this kind of thing as I would much rather have them be large, tasty bursts that mingle with the salad rather than blend into the salad as a dressing. Once you’ve chopped the cilantro to the consistency you like, add it to the salad bowl.
The second green you will want is your avocado. The fantastic trick to cutting avocado easily and cleanly was taught to me by a friend of mine. Simply start by cutting your avocado in half, then into quarters. Slide the blade of your knife down the center of an avocado quarter, and then across to create blocks of avocado. Then, gently bend the peel back so as to cause the avocado to invert and separate. Now, you can easily and efficiently scoop the avocado from the skin and gently deposit in your salad container.
The third and final green thing is your lime! This lime will serve not only a the zesty and zingy dressing that will add lightness and flavor to your salad, but will also serve as a preserver that will help keep your avocado from browning and looking terrible. Cut the lime in half, and squeeze gently over the contents of your salad.
Note: This was a somewhat large lime, so use both halves if you are using a smaller lime.
Now, gently mix the salad together with a large spoon, carefully avoiding to crush the avocado. Add salt and pepper to taste, and you’re done!
I decided to make this salad for two reasons:
1) My friend and I were having a mini potluck for lunch on Thursday, and I promised to bring a chicken stir fry dish. But being a goofball, and having forgotten to defrost chicken, I brainstormed and happened upon this idea instead.
2) Many of my friends in college would often complain that they did not have time to make healthy food, or that it was too expensive to make. To this, I reply that this salad took less than half an hour (if you factor out all the time I spent taking pictures of the food) and in all cost me less than $7 to make several servings of delicious goodness. On top of all that, there is nothing unhealthy in this salad (I’m pro-avocado).
Now that my life is consumed with work, friends, and endless errands, I keep whining to myself the same mantras that homemade healthy food is unrealistic with my schedule. It’s so much easier to just give in and go get Chinese food at lunch or sushi for dinner. Yet, when I can make something as wonderful and savory and healthy as Cowboy Caviar in less than half an hour and for less than my take-out lunch costs, I don’t know how much longer I could have kept up that lazy argument. And maybe that’s a good thing.
Do yourself a favor- make this, try it, love it, and never say you don’t have time for salad again.