Fiesta Time!

Today was in the high 70’s. It was sunny and fabulous and it was almost- we are talking hours here-May. So, by Noon, I broke down and dialed a very important number. I called our wonderful handymen and asked just how fast they could come and open our porch for the summer. The answer was first thing in the morning! How thrilled am I?!

We have a wonderful screened-in porch that May through September is one of my favorite places to be. It is sunny, breezy and has a fabulous ceiling fan for when the days are unbearably hot. Oh, and did I mention that it furnished with very cool rescued rattan furniture covered with black and white Sunbrella fabric? My porch is just the bees-knees as far as I am concerned. But, during the winter, we close it up and place storms where the screens go. The blocking of the air- the antithesis of the porch’s purpose- actually allows us to use it into October and then as early as mid-April when the sun shines- so that’s something. But, my spirits just soar when the breezes blow again and the ceiling fan turns.

I remember the day we first saw our house. To say that it was a fixer-upper is an understatement. It was near condemnation. In our inspection, it was pointed out that if you turned on kitchen faucet, water poured into the basement. The kitchen pipes were rotted out. That pretty much summed up the infrastructure of the house. (Think George Bailey’s house in It’s A Wonderful House before he bought it.) Real Estate Rule # 456: there is always a sucker-somewhere. Well, we were the suckers for this house and I don’t regret it for a second!

Anyway, from the beginning I was smitten with the screened-in porch. There were no sliding doors to be found, no pretense of this space being anything other than what it was-a warm weather only screened–in porch. I loved it. As we renovated and Tad lobbied to enclose it, I held firm. This would be where we lived in summer. I can say now, with a wry little smile, that Tad would not trade our porch for anything. It is just too heavenly May through mid-October.

This afternoon, as I planned our dinner, I thought that some homage needed to be paid the to opening of the porch. We needed flavor, color, and a sense of summer. So, I thus the Fiesta Salad was born to celebrate our porch, May and a good life. Wahoo!

One note: this is a terrific summer side- but an equally good salsa/salad with fish.

Fiesta Salad– serves 8
1 ½ medium to large sweet onions (such as Maui or Vidalia)
1 large jalapeno
1 red pepper
4 ears of corn
¾ c. cilantro, roughly chopped
1-15 oz can of black beans, rinsed
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped into medium chunks
¼ c. freshly squeezed lime juice
½ c good quality olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, minced

1. Pre-heat an oven to 400.
2. Cut the onions in half crosswise and peel the outer most layer of skin off. Brush the cut sides of the onion with olive oil and place cut side down on a baking pan. Bake in the 400 oven for 1.5 hours. Remove and set aside to cool.
3. Meanwhile, char the jalapeno and red pepper over a gas flame, or in a broiler, until blackened on all sides. Place in a brown paper bag and close the bag. Let stand for 10 minutes. Peel the peppers using your fingers-the skin just slides off. DO NOT RINSE PEPPERS UNDER WATER-you will lose the juices. Seed and then mince the jalapeno and seed and chop the red pepper. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
4. Roast the corn under the broiler- being careful to turn it as it browns. Cut the kernels off the husk and place in bowl with the peppers
5. Chop the onions into ½” pieces and add to the pepper/corn mixture.
6. Add the black beans, cilantro and avocado to the vegetables in the bowl.
7. Meanwhile, make the dressing. In a small bowl or jar, mix the lime juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper to taste. Dress the vegetables as desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

One other note: the favors of this dish develop as the salad sits- I recommend making it early in the day that you plan to serve it. It is also great the next day. Be sure to stir it right before each serving.



  1. Posted May 3, 2010 at 5:18 am | Permalink | Reply

    Once again, your blog has put me in a sunny mood on a stressful, rainy morning! I will definitely be making this salad this–I think it would be awesome served on crispy tostada’s too. Thanks, Caroline!

  2. Miquele
    Posted May 6, 2010 at 10:38 pm | Permalink | Reply

    This one is definetly on the menu for Mother’s Day!

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