March 12, 2013

Tailgate Season!

Black Bean, Mango & Avocado Salad

And so it begins! This past weekend marked the first pre-season home game for DC United. Tailgating is a seasonal ritual for our Club Echa Panza, which proudly claims some fantastic cooks. Every tailgate boasts a worthy spread of grilled meats with a wide assortment of beers & other goodies. Anticipating that there would be protein options aplenty, this time around, I made a vegetarian salad. This black bean, mango & avocado salad is fantastic served taco style in a grilled tortilla & complements a wide array of grilled meats.

The Inspiration Board

Black Bean, Mango & Avocado Salad 
with Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

1 can black beans
1 mango, sliced
1 avocado, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 bunch cilantro, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1/2 lime, juiced + more to taste
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tsp honey (optional)

1. place the beans in a colander & rinse thoroughly, until the water runs clear. then place the beans in a large mixing bowl.

2. one trick to cutting up a mango is to be mindful of the pit, which is a flat-ish oblong shape in the center of fruit. holding the mango upright with the fat, stem side down, cut the mango into thirds in line with the oblong shape. you will have 2 thick outer pieces with lots of fruit, and one center piece with the pit and a rim of skin around the outer edges. see here for a pictorial. add diced mango to the beans.

3. as with the mango, cutting an avocado is made a lot simpler when mindful of the pit. I always cut the avocado lengthwise in half. the large center pit should slide right out, or you can use a small paring knife to ease it out or if feeling extra fancy a large santoku knife to tap the pit & remove it in one fell swooping motion. with the skin still in tact, I dice the fruit, then use a large spoon to scoop the fruit out of the skin. see here for a pictorial. add diced avocado to the beans & mangoes.

4. fold the chopped tomatoes gently into the beans, mangoes and avocados.

5. whisk together the cilantro, olive oil, cumin, lime juice, & spices. taste to adjust. the mangoes add a natural sweetness to this salad, but if the dressing is tasting a bit acidic, you may want to add a drizzle of honey (~1/2-1 tsp) to the dressing to round out the flavors. 

6. serve in warmed tortillas taco style & add some grilled chicken, shrimp or even steak should you feel so inclined. this is also delicious as an alternative to a 7 layer dip with tortilla chips. for a more complete meal, serve over coconut rice.