Before I moved to Wyoming, high school graduation for my children was relatively low key—two and a half hour ceremony with lots of speeches and musical numbers, trying to get out of the UVU parking lot, going out to eat, all night party at the high school. Wyoming, as usual, does things a little differently. Nearly every family’s graduate puts on a party either at their home, or at a park. These parties are spread out the week before graduation, with most of them happening Saturday and Sunday of graduation weekend. Everyone spends a lot of time not only prepping for their own party but attending as many other parties as physically possible. It’s actually really fun and I didn’t have to cook anything for my family for two days as we went from party to party in a sort of informal progressive dinner! This was all new to me when my son graduated last year from Worland High School. I wasn’t sure how it all worked and our “party” was pretty lame. I’ve since learned and with my daughter graduating this year we geared up for a grand time! We decided to have her party on Monday after the Sunday graduation since there were so many parties she wanted to attend during the weekend.
All these parties involve lots of food. So I started searching for something besides cookies to serve at our shindig. The Big Book of Potluck: Good Food – and Lots of It – for Parties, Gatherings, and All Occasions by Maryana Vollstedt sounded like a good place to begin. I found a recipe for Black Bean and Corn Salad which sounded really good, since I’m a bean and corn fan. I used it as a sort of salsa with chips and it was a hit! The flavor had a perfect balance of spices and I enjoyed it immensely. I did not put in the jalapeno since I’m not a “hot” fan and I knew there would be lots of children at our party and I wanted it to appeal to them as well. I used an orange bell pepper, being all of out of red ones. I also used frozen corn, which worked well, and canned tomatoes. I used parsley instead of cilantro since I am not a cilantro lover. The recipe says it serves 6 to 8 people, but if you use it as salsa instead of a salad it goes much farther.
Thankfully as I cleaned up last night I saw there was a little leftover, just perfect for my lunch today.
Black Bean and Corn Salad
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups seeded, chopped, and drained tomatoes
1 ½ cups freshly cooked corn kernels, scraped off the cob (3 or 4 ears, or frozen corn, thawed
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
¼ cup fresh lime juice
½ teaspoon dried cumin
¼ teaspoon sugar
½ teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
In a large bowl, mix together beans, tomatoes, corn, jalapeno peppers, onion, bell pepper, and cilantro. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, lime juice, cumin, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Toss the salad with enough dressing to coat. Cover and refrigerate several hours or overnight. Serve at room temperature.
SERVES 6 to 8