Corn, Tomato and Black Bean Salad with a Lime-Chipotle Dressing

We’ve been making salad for dinner. Given the heat, we’ve been making salad for dinner a lot. Last week, for instance, we managed to not turn on the stove for five consecutive days.

It’s fair to say that I have a bit of a taco salad problem. It’s been my favorite meal for, oh, about 20 years now. The way I satisfy that ongoing jag has shifted a bit, admittedly; this is light years away from iceberg lettuce in a deep-fried white flour tortilla.

But if you share with me a love for that spicy-cool-tart-crunchy-citrusy combination – not that I’m admitting to anything, but if, let’s say, you did something on the order of driving three exits down the Beltway to hang out at a fast-food restaurant that rhymes with Paco Hell in the middle of the night in high school, but have since turned your heart toward wholesome food – this is the salad for you.

This corn, tomato and black bean salad is one that can only be born at midsummer – it needs perfectly sweet-tart tomatoes, not to mention crunchy-sweet corn. Cilantro backs up the citrusy note of the lime-based dressing, and black beans and bulghur give it the heft that a main-dish salad should have.

Sure, the black beans make sense, but the bulghur might seem out of left field, right? It has a good reason for being there. It adds what I think is an essential chewy note, something that salads often lack. The bulghur fills that textural gap and makes the whole combination much more satisfying to eat.

Salad ingredients:

1 medium head green leaf lettuce, washed and torn into stamp-sized pieces
4 large ears corn, kernels cut off the cob
1 dry pint cherry tomatoes, stemmed and quartered
4 c. cooked black beans
1/2 c. bulghur
1 1/2 c. tomato juice
1 c. cilantro, roughly chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Dressing ingredients:

1/2 c. neutral oil (like canola or sunflower)
2 T. fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 chipotle chili
1 T. minced garlic
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. pepper
1/4 t. ground cumin
1/4 t. paprika

Place the corn in a microwave-safe dish with a lid. Season the corn with salt and pepper to taste; add a tablespoon of water. Cover and microwave for four minutes, until cooked but still crunchy. Set aside in the fridge to cool briefly. Place the bulghur in a small saucepan and add the tomato juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until the liquid has been absorbed and the bulghur is tender. Set aside to cool. (The bulghur can also be cooked in the microwave, but I’ve found it to be a bit variable to give instructions for.)

To make the dressing, place all the ingredients in a small food processor or blender and buzz until combined and emulsified.

When the corn and the bulghur are cool, combine all the salad ingredients and toss to combine.

Makes 4 entree-sized servings.

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