Totally rawsome

[Recipe 1] MEXICAN BLACK BEAN and CORN SALAD with QUESO FRESCO
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[Recipe 2] FLATHEAD TACOS with BLACK BEAN SALSA and CHIPOTLE MAYO

It’s entertaining season around here, and ‘stealing salad’ is a sneaky way to get two meals from one. Mexican black bean and corn salad is perfect for a potluck or BBQ and by pilfering 3 cups of prepared ingredients (before adding the avocado and Queso Fresco) and 3 tablespoons of dressing; you’ll have a ready-made salsa, to spoon into tacos with crumbed flathead and chipotle mayo for dinner the next day. My ten year old’s verdict – DELICIOUS!
I served this up at two Christmas lunches last week. The recipe is adapted from one my son made at school – he’s lucky enough to be part of the Stephanie Alexander Kitchen program, where ingredients are plucked straight from the school veggie patch and cooked up by the kids.
This salad is a bowl of health, choc-full of raw veggies, and lots of texture and colour. I mucked around with the original recipe, adding mild chillies and onion, swapping lettuce for shredded red cabbage and replacing fetta with Mexican Queso Fresco. Damn I LOVE this cheese. It’s admittedly tricky to find, but well worth the hunt. it’s smooth and mild, holds its shape well and has a little kick of saltiness – the perfect salad cheese.
Wishing you all a very Happy New Year. See you in 2015! xx
PS. I had to share my vintage Japanese ‘Hostess’ brand salad servers. I love the wood/ceramic combination and the crazy colours. I found the red ones a couple of weeks ago. Do three sets constitute a collection? I hope so, as calling myself ‘a collector’ surely justifies me buying more…

Vintage Hostess salad serversMexican salad with Queso Fresco. One Equals Two.[Recipe 1] Mexican black bean and corn salad with Queso Fresco

Ingredients (makes salad for 8–10 people, plus tacos for 4):
250g (9 oz) dried black beans, soaked overnight (or tinned beans – see notes)
4 firm, ripe tomatoes, seeds and core roughly scooped out and discarded, chopped
2 cups uncooked corn kernels (cut from 2 large corn cobs)
1 white salad onion, peeled and finely diced
3 cups very finely shredded red cabbage (from ½ a cabbage)
2 red capsicums (bell peppers), de-seeded, finely chopped
2 long red chillies, de-seeded, very finely chopped
Lime dressing:
100 ml (3.4 oz) lime juice (from 2–3 limes)
½ cup olive oil
4 tablespoons maple syrup
1 large garlic clove, very finely chopped
½ teaspoon sea salt
(Note: you’ll be reserving 3 cups of the above salad ingredients, and 3 tablespoons of lime dressing, for the tacos in recipe 2)
To serve:
2 avocados, diced
1 cup chopped fresh coriander (cilantro)
125g (4.5 oz) Queso Fresco (replace with firm fetta if unavailable), crumbled
Corn chips, smashed (optional)

Drain soaked black beans, place into a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil. Simmer for 40–50 minutes until just tender. Take care not to overcook them as they should retain a bit of bite. Drain, rinse and place in a large bowl. Allow to cool.
Add tomatoes, corn kernels, onion, cabbage, capsicum and chillies. Toss gently.
♦ Reserve 3 cups of salad mix for the flathead tacos with black bean salsa (recipe 2).
To make the lime dressing, place ingredients in a screw-top jar and shake well.
♦ Reserve 3 tablespoons dressing for the flathead tacos with black bean salsa (recipe 2).
Refrigerate salad ingredients and dressing separately, covered, until ready to serve. Both can be prepared the night before.
To serve, gently stir the large quantity of dressing through the large bowl of salad ingredients. Scatter with avocado, coriander, crumbled Queso Fresco and smashed corn chips (if using). Serve immediately.

  • 250g (9 oz) dried black beans yields approximately 3 cups cooked beans. You can replace the cooked beans with 2 x 400g (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed.
  • Although the corn chips are optional, kids will thank you for them! You can serve them in a separate bowl, alongside the salad. Guests can grab a handful and smash them over their own serve.
  • Dried black beans are available in Melbourne from Casa Iberica, Oasis Bakery, El Cielo and La Tortilleria; and in Sydney from Fireworks Foods. They can also be purchased online from guaca Mall-e.
  • Queso Fresco (‘fresh cheese’) is available in Melbourne at Casa Iberica and in Sydney at Fireworks Foods.
  • Be sure to scatter the avocado on top of the salad, rather than stir it through. If there is any leftover dressed salad, you can pick off the avocado and it will keep well for a couple of days – it’s great to take to work for lunch!
  • Reserved salad mixture and dressing (for the tacos) can be stored in the fridge, covered, for up to 3 days.

Flathead tacos with black bean salsa. One Equals Two.

[Recipe 2] Flathead tacos with black bean salsa and chipotle mayo

Ingredients (serves 4):
♦ 3 cups reserved salad mix (see above)
♦ 3 tablespoons reserved lime dressing (see above)
400g (14 oz) flathead (or other firm white fish, such as whiting) fillets
½ cup plain (all-purpose) flour
2 eggs, beaten
1½ cups panko breadcrumbs
Olive oil for shallow frying
8 blue corn tortillas (see notes)

Chipotle mayo

♦ To make black bean salsa, combine reserved salad mix and reserved lime dressing. Dredge flathead fillets in flour, dip into beaten eggs and coat well in breadcrumbs. Refrigerate, covered, until required.
Pour oil into a large non-stick frying pan, to about 3mm (.1″) deep. Shallow-fry the crumbed flathead fillets in batches for about 2–3 minutes each side, until light golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.
Warm tortillas in a dry non-stick pan. Arrange flathead fillets and a good plop of black bean salsa on each. Drizzle with chipotle mayo, and serve immediately.

  • Blue corn tortillas are available in-store and online from Fireworks Foods in Sydney and El Cielo in Melbourne.
  • Japanese panko breadcrumbs make for an extra crispy coating. They’re available at large supermarkets and Asian grocers.
  • If using large pieces of fish, cut into strips before coating.