Black bean salad is a great side dish or light meal to serve to groups. It is endlessly versatile, so it is easily prepared with what you have on hand (provided, of course, that you have black beans).
I prefer using dried black beans rather than canned ones; the texture is a bit firmer. But, if you have canned black beans in your pantry and you’re in a hurry, canned works just fine.
If you’re worried about proportions, don’t be! Go easy on the onion, jalapeño, and garlic; strong flavors that might hurt your end result if you go overboard.
With the lime juice, salt, and oil – add a small amount at first, and a bit more until you get the flavor you like.
With these ingredients, it’s very hard to mess up.
- Black beans
- Onion, chopped finely (I prefer purple but any will do)
- Jalepeño, chopped finely
- Garlic, minced
- Chopped bell peppers – red, yellow, and/or green
- Chopped tomatoes (I usually scoop out the seeds)
- Freshly squeezed lime
- Chopped cilantro
- Olive oil
- Combine all the vegetables in a bowl
- Add lime juice, chopped cilantro, and salt, to taste
- Toss with a small amount of nice olive oil
Ideas for variety:
Additions: Add any of the following: corn, avocados, jicama, mango, shredded carrot, cooked sweet potato, cucumber. If your crowd isn’t vegan, add shredded sharp cheddar or queso fresco.
Jamaica style – chop up some pineapple. Skip the oil and add coconut milk.
Chipotle-style – Skip the lime juice. Use a couple of chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (or dried chile reconstituted). Blend them with a bit of oil and fresh orange juice.
No cilantro? No biggie. Parsley works, or skip it altogether.
This salad does not need to be complex. If you’ve got black beans, tomato, and onion you can still make a nice black bean salad. The flavor of black beans makes them great even on their own; this salad is an opportunity to showcase the flavor, not hide it.
Making this salad for a group?
For a salad like this, I usually count on 1/4 cup of dried beans per person eating (black beans typically expand by 3 times during the cooking process) – but less and less as numbers of people increase. For four people, I would cook 1 cup of dried beans. For forty people, around 8 cups of dried beans.
Obviously this varies a bit depending on the amount of vegetables you’re planning to add. If you want it to be mainly beans, cook a bit more. If you want to add lots of vegetables and less beans, obviously cook less beans.
Serving this salad a few hours, or even a day after you make it will help the flavors get to know each other and will taste a bit more developed. But, like nearly always, if you’re in a hurry don’t worry.
Be sure to add the oil last. Or, if you want to make a dressing out of it, mix the dressing ingredients thoroughly before dumping them on the salad. When oil is added it coats the salad and makes it hard for other flavors (lime, vinegar, etc) to be absorbed.