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Southwestern Black Bean and Corn Salad

It’s the peak of summer, bringing BBQs, potlucks, and family gatherings. If you’re looking for a quick and healthy recipe that you can easily scale up for a crowd, make this salad your go-to contribution for the rest of the season. This colorful mix of black beans, corn, onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, and fresh cilantro, all tossed in a light, simple citrus vinaigrette dressing, is sometimes called “Texas Caviar.” Chock-full of fiber and nutrients, it’s a winner for both taste and health. Black beans are rich in fiber, iron, and flavonoids (naturally-occurring anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant compounds). To recap the benefits of fiber: it will help fill you up, feed your gut bacteria, and is associated with lower LDL cholesterol. Bell peppers are a good source of vitamin C, beta carotene (which converts to vitamin A in your body), and other antioxidants. Olive oil and avocado (if you add it) supply healthy monounsaturated fats, which, if used in place of saturated fats, can improve cardiovascular health.

You can easily customize this dish based on your family’s preferences – dial up the heat with a jalapeno pepper, or leave out the tomatoes if Uncle Fred can’t stand ‘em. And with food prices rising, it’s easy on the wallet (unlike real caviar). It’s less expensive to buy the beans in bulk and cook them yourself, but canned will do if you want to save time. Look for the low-sodium variety if you’re watching your salt intake.

And in the unlikely event that you have leftovers, as long as they haven’t sat out too long in the hot sun, put them in the fridge and enjoy the next day. It’s even better as the flavors meld.

Southwestern Black Bean and Corn Salad

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Chilling Time: At least 30 minutes
Serves: 8 as a side dish

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups cooked black beans (or 2 15-ounce cans, rinsed and drained)
  • 1 ½ cups corn kernels (or 1 can, drained)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced (or ½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved)
  • 1 medium red onion, minced (or ½ bunch scallions, finely chopped)
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
  • 1 ripe avocado, diced (optional)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Add all ingredients to a large bowl and toss gently. Taste and season as needed – add a little more lime juice, salt, pepper, chop up a little more cilantro, etc. Cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Enjoy the salad on its own, serve with tortilla chips, or, for a delicious health boost, use halved mini bell peppers as scoops instead.

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