|A simple al freco dinner...featuring Spicy Pinto and |
Black Bean Salad with Roasted Corn and Avocado.
First, don’t plan your outing for the hottest part of the day...wait until later in the day, when the temps cool off a bit as the Sun sets. Even better, find a location that’s under a tree or covered sitting area that allows for a bit of shade and a nice breeze. To further beat the heat, wear lightweight, light-colored clothes. By following these simple tips, you may be a bit warm...but the heat shouldn’t be unbearable. Make sure to keep the meal light and refreshing too: chilled salads, fresh fruit, and plenty of cold beverages are your best bets for Summer outdoor dining.
Second, don’t let the menu stress you out: the focus of the meal is spending time together! The menu should be fuss-free and simple -- but that doesn’t mean it has to be plain or boring! I like to bring components that can be mixed and matched in a variety of ways. For the menu I’m sharing today, I wanted to feature a healthy easy-to-tote salad. Ideally, I wanted a dish that could be eaten alone or paired with a few store-bought components to create a light and easy meal. I knew I had found exactly what I was looking for when I stumbled across a recipe for a bean and corn salad with avocado at Cooking Light’s website.
This salad is substantial enough to eat on its own, but it’s versatile enough to be eaten several different ways! Check out this menu: Spicy Pinto and Black Bean Salad with Roasted Corn and Avocado, grilled chicken breast, salsa-ranch dressing, tortilla chips, and my favorite bakery cookies. These components give you lots of meal options: wrap sandwiches, chips and salsa, and a veg-friendly main dish salad for starters. This flavorful salad takes about 30 minutes to assemble, but it needs to chill for a few hours. I made the base of the salad the night before, but waited to add the avocado until just before serving.
Step 1: Place a grill pan on the stove over med-high heat. Let the pan heat for 5-6 minutes while you prep the veggies. Liberally rub two shucked ears of corn with olive oil. Grill the corn for about five minutes per side, until it is cooked and some of the kernels are browned.
Step 4: Make a dressing by combining the following ingredients in a measuring cup: 1/4 cup olive oil, the juice of one large lime, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. onion powder, 1 tsp. dried cilantr0, 1 tsp. chile powder, 1 tsp. cumin, and salt & pepper to taste. Whisk and pour over the ingredients in the bowl. Stir well to evenly coat everything with the dressing. Refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. Just prior to serving, dice one avocado on top of the salad and squeeze with the juice of an additional lime.