Corn & Black Bean Chopped Salad with Cilantro, Lime, & Avocado Dressing
you always start and start and start again
things you’ll need for salad: corn (frozen or canned, fire-roasted is fun), black beans (canned or from scratch), some kind of allium (red or green onions onion if you have the luxury of choice), lettuce (cabbage or some other leafy or cruciferous base), and anything from this list of suggestions to drool about: bell peppers, cucumbers, cauliflower crumbles, tomatoes, more cilantro, avocado, pickled jalapeños, banana peppers, leftover roasted veggies like sweet potatoes or squash, mango, canned mandarin oranges, tortilla strips (or chips crushed in your fist), pepitas, queso fresco, shredded yellow cheese, bacon, chicken, shrimp, salmon, steak, spicy tofu crumbles, torn up slices of lunch meat, etc.
things you’ll need for dressing: avocado (you can leave this out and just make a bright lime vinaigrette), fresh cilantro, limes (or lime juice), something sweet (like honey, sugar, or agave), olive or neutral oil, salt & pepper. Add-ins: garlic, shallot, mayo, sour cream, yogurt, more vinegar, jalapeño, chipotle, cumin, coriander, etc.
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You probably don’t know that, once a week, I make dinner for my folks. My mom is the gluten-free almost vegetarian in my life (who can be a bit picky). I often try to make things that I know she could replicate. This salad is not revolutionary. She COULD do it, so I am sure that you can too. Look up “Southwest Salad” on the internet machines and you can find a billion recipes. I got the Cilantro and Lime dressing base from Love and Lemons and then added avocado and mayo, per the suggestion. You can find 7,280,000 iterations here. Chop more toppings than you need and then eat this salad all week.
Incidentally gluten-free, easily vegetarian and vegan.
Sometimes you forget words or the names for things only to remember them when you aren’t exhausting yourself trying so hard to find them. Beginnings can be like this. When searching for the way forward, you always picture yourself at the beginning and are usually stuck there.
Maybe you need more perspective on how far you’ve already come. You aren’t beginning. You began a long time ago, at the moment you first knew that you could and then did. You are a remarkable collection of beginnings.
That doesn’t mean that it isn’t exhausting or daunting or that the stakes aren’t high and the circumstances don’t feel surmountable. Urgency can’t always be stopped and ambition doesn’t always come when called.
You’ve taken the right, wrong, and necessary paths on your way here. Maybe you need to look back. Maybe don’t start, just continue. Maybe make a list and pull one want from the pile and work on that. You know too much to believe that you don’t know how to begin. You’ve found paths through curiosity, prowess, indulgence, and the detours of loss before you even got here.
Start with what you already know. Maybe start with a salad. At least you know there will be greens. Trust a solid platform like romaine or cabbage or whatever you green you know and/or already have.
Turn to the cabinet and freezer where you store what you know you will need. Open and rinse a can of beans. Gently thaw some corn that was frozen when the corn was at its best.
Forage for toppings, whether your hunting ground is the crisper or the store: bell pepper, cucumber, red onions, and the tiny tomatoes that pop when you bite down. No one is there to tell you that cauliflower is a bad choice, so don’t get in your own way either.
In the persistence of winter, know that you need something green. This has always been true. Take a fistful of cilantro with all its leaves and stems. Chop/chiffonade the bunch or just shove it into a food processor/blender. Squeeze the juice from AT LEAST two limes, more if the bright tang awakens something that you need alert and ready. Add an entire avocado. Blend. Dribble in some oil. You know that most dressings are 1:3 or 1:2 (acid to fat). Taste your way because also know what you like.
Add salt and pepper. Wonder if it needs garlic or mayo or jalapeños or coriander or something else. You know what you want, so add it. It might be a little bitter, just like you, so add a squeeze of something sweet like honey or agave. If it’s too thick, add a little water. If it’s too tame, add a little more acid. If it’s perfect or even good enough, then move on.
Compose your salad like the page of a coloring book with perfect lines or a chaos of color. Toss with dressing or make a small dish to keep on the side where you can control and adjust ratios with every bite. Grab a fistful of tortilla chips and crush them with your mighty fist. Let them fall where they will.
You’re moving forward, even when it all looks the same. You may not have a plan, a purpose, a clear intent or the barest inkling of what you think you MIGHT want. That’s ok too. You’ve already begun. Keep going towards what you know and stop for lunch along the way.
more things that kind of taste like this, if salad isn’t where you want to start
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Thank you! I needed this today! Both the salad idea and the inspiration. 🥰