Black Bean Salsa

My mother decided to throw a dinner party last weekend to celebrate the arrival of summer/Fourth of July with a few of her skiing friends. Naturally, I stepped in and had a few things to say about what was going to be on the menu. My mother listened politely, but respectfully disagreed. You see, my mother and I have very different ideas about what a dinner party should entail.

I love to throw dinner parties. I'll use any excuse I can find to bring a few friends into my home (and into my kitchen). Many days in advance, I like to plan out the menu. The food must be seasonal, fresh, and homemade. I'll run through a list of ideas for dishes in my head. Over the next few days, I may add a few here and remove a few there. I try to make the menu cohesive. Will the appetizer complement the dessert? Is there a theme? Did I plan to make too much food again?

I have been known to go a little, well, overboard every once in awhile.

(For those of you who also love to throw a good dinner party, you should check out The Table Set podcast. Fun and informative!)

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My mother, on the other hand, likes to keep things as simple and easy as possible. The least amount of work she has to put into the planning and execution of her party, the better. While I can completely respect her minimalist style, it just isn't mine. I love elaborate meals. I love cooking or baking every component from scratch. And, perhaps most unlike my mother, I love to have a reason to spend hours in the kitchen.

When it came to planning the menu for this particular dinner party, my mother and I were able to find middle ground. A Mexican theme was decided upon, with chips and salsa as the appetizer and tacos as the main course; dessert was all mine (it was so good, you can bet I'll be sharing it with you soon). Knowing myself, I wanted to make the tortilla chips from scratch. My mother put that idea to rest in the blink of an eye. Nevertheless, I insisted the salsa should at least be fresh and homemade. The rest is history.

Following the "simple and easy" approach of my mother, this Black Bean Salsa has flavors complex enough for meโ€”the perfect compromise.

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This Black Bean Salsa is bright, colorful, and delicious. The flavors are complex, with hints of bell pepper, tomato, lime, and red onion to round out the heartiness of the black beans. This definitely isn't a salsa from a jar. Make this the night before eating to allow the flavors to meld and bring out the best flavor. While this salsa rests somewhere between mild and medium, you could add more heat by including the seeds from the diced jalapeno or by sprinkling in a few red pepper flakes. Serve with tortilla chips or as a topping to your next taco or burrito.

One Year Ago: Margaritas

Black Bean Salsa

1 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup yellow pepper, diced
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 jalapeรฑo, minced
1 lime, juiced and zested
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil (olive oil is too overpowering)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh cilantro, chopped (for garnish)

In a large bowl, mix together the black beans, yellow and red pepper, tomatoes, red onion, and jalapeรฑo.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice and zest, garlic, and oil. Drizzle over salsa and stir to coat evenly. Chill in refrigerator for at least 8 hours, preferably overnight. The flavors need time to meld together.

Before serving, season with salt and pepper and mix in fresh cilantro. Serve with a side of tortilla chips!