Sweet & Spicy Black Bean Salad

by Lori on August 9, 2010

My family celebrated my mother’s birthday last weekend.  I can think of no better way to celebrate my mother than through food.  After all, she is the one who first introduced me to the kitchen.  In my younger years, I watched her prepare our family meals, decorate cakes for birthdays and special occasions and when the time was right, I was able to help her in the kitchen by getting dinner started before she got home from work.  Just about everything she made for dinner was done without a recipe, and I needed guidance which came via numerous phone calls to her office.  For so long I felt so dependent on my mom’s instructions, and at times I still do.  She was the teacher, and through her encouragement I learned to make the kitchen my own, use my instincts and be confident.

Every time I spoke with my mother over this past week, she mentioned her birthday dinner.  I served this salad as a side dish with grilled fish tacos.  My parents loved the tacos, but this salad had a lasting impression on my mother.  She hasn’t been able to make it through any of our conversations without talking about it.  I know it won’t be long until my mom calls me to ask for the recipe.  After all of the times I’ve called her to help me through my cooking questions, I have to say that life really does come full circle.  Grand children aside, I think this is the sort of thing that qualifies as a proper thank-you gift for someone who is long overdue.

Sweet and Spicy Black Bean Salad
Adapted from Simply Classic

For the salad:
2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1-1/2 cups corn
1 cup celery, chopped
1 cup red bell pepper, diced
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
1 large avocado, diced (optional)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, minced

For the dressing:
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup canola oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

Chilling time: 1 hour

For the dressing, combine lime juice, oil, brown sugar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.  Shake until well-blended.  Set aside.

Mix beans, corn, celery, red pepper, jalapeno and cilantro together in a shallow bowl.  Pour dressing over bean mixture and toss to coat.  Cover and chill for 1 hour or up to 1 day.

Arrange salad in a shallow bowl lined with red cabbage or lettuce leaves.  Sprinkle with cilantro leaves and serve.


  • I have used fresh corn cut from the husk or frozen corn that has been thawed.  Fresh is best but the frozen works well too.
  • I removed the seeds and ribs from the jalapeno peppers to keep the spicy kick to a minimum.  Feel free to adjust to your liking.
  • I love fresh chunks of avocado in this salad, although the buttery texture of the black beans can stand on their own if you choose to omit the avocado.  Add the avocado right before you serve it to avoid oxidation.  Another option is to serve the salad in half an avocado.
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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth August 10, 2010 at 2:51 pm

You could serve me anything in an avocado boat and I would tell you it's delicious! Fantastic idea for a black bean salad though…something so simple made gourmet!


Aspiring Kennedy August 11, 2010 at 4:29 am

I love this idea!! Yummy!!


E August 13, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Those look delicious! Here's to avocado boats!!


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