A week ago, before the
glacial super cool temperatures set in, I went to a barbecue at my friend’s place at the lake, an annual casual, intimate and at times raucous gathering of five long-time friends and our fellas. Our hosts supplied two kinds of grilled sausages and dessert, and the rest of us brought side dishes.
My contribution was a variation on my standard black bean salad, a sweeter version that celebrates the seasonal produce of late summer. And it’s also pretty: I love the contrast of the dark reddish beans and the yellow corn and golden peaches.
With corn in abundance, I grilled two cobs on the barbecue and then sliced off the caramelized kernels. Their crisp sweetness was a pleasing contrast to the mild meatiness of the beans. For a hit of even more sweetness, I grilled sliced peaches until they were nicely marked and oozing with sticky, candied juices. Mild onion contributed some bite. Apart from salt and pepper, the main seasoning was provided via a healthy handful of finely sliced fresh basil.
I was tempted to throw in even more ingredients, like sliced cherry tomatoes, but I restrained myself. Sometimes simple is best.
A word about the use of an acidic component (in this case red wine vinegar) in bean salads. When I first made the salad it had just the degree of tang that I like. What I failed to take into account is that over time, the beans seem to absorb and neutralize that flavour. When we ate the salad at the party, about four hours later, it wasn’t as tangy as I would have liked, although there were others who really liked it.
So, I could have added more vinegar originally, or better yet, tasted and adjusted it just before serving. Of course, had I turned up at the party with a bottle of vinegar in tow, I think some teasing might have been directed my way. Hmm, is that cheap wine?
Black Bean Salad with Grilled Corn & Grilled Peaches
- 2 ears yellow corn, shucked and rubbed with a bit of olive oil
- 1 – 2 medium peaches, sliced about 1/4″ thick
- 1 540 ml can black beans
- 1/3 cup finely diced onion
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- good handful fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded
Heat the barbecue or grill, then put on the corn and peach slices. Turn the corn every few minutes until there is a nice degree of caramelization. Not all the kernels will brown.
Keep a vigilant eye on the peaches. Because of their sweetness, they will caramelize quicker, and it’s a short step from there to burned. Note how the juices ooze and get stickier, and people walking by sniff the air appreciatively at the smell that’s sweet and caramel-like.
The peaches will be done first. Remove them and then the grilled corn to plates and set aside.
Drain and rinse the black beans. Tumble them into a bowl with the diced onion.
Then, using a an inverted small bowl set inside a wide, shallow bowl, and holding the corn cobs stem end down on the small bowl, slice off the kernels. Add to the black beans.
Dice the grilled peach slices and scrape the pieces and all their lovely juice into the salad bowl.
Sprinkle the basil over top, then add the oil, vinegar and seasonings. Gently fold until everything is well combined, and taste to adjust the vinegar and seasonings. If not serving immediately, stir and taste again before serving, to assess if you need to add any more vinegar, salt or pepper.