Several years ago, I dated a guy that had gone to cooking school. He constantly raved about how great of a cook he was especially when it came to Southern cooking. He went on and on (and on...) about how his red beans and rice was soooooo wonderful that I finally had to ask to taste it. Ugh, it tasted a lot like a cross between refried beans from a can and what I imagine Alpo to taste like. I ended up dumping it down the garbage disposal and just went on with life thinking I wasn't a fan of red beans and rice. That is until I had it at Taylor's Kitchen one night...I LOVED their red beans and rice and couldn't get enough of it! Since then I've had red beans and rice on numerous occasions- sometimes where it's been fantastic, sometimes when it's been mediocre but never as bad as that batch my date made for me. The lesson I learned from the "Red Beans Fiasco of 2008" is to always give food another chance before condemning it. It could be that you came across a bad batch, a bad recipe or just a bad cook. So in the spirit of my "Give It Another Chance" mantra I decided to give bean salad another whirl as well. I have to admit, I was a bit hesitant. My experiences with bean salad were mostly of the supermarket deli variety- a strong vinegar smell, overcooked mushy beans and lack of anything resembling flavor. Yuck! So imagine my surprise when I prepared a batch of this Mexican Bean Salad from Allrecipes.com for a party and I really liked it. It's colorful, flavorful and it works great as a salad or as a dip. I made a few adjustments in the ingredients' list to cater to my personal taste preferences but it was still simple to make. I liked how the corn kernels gave it some crunch, the hot sauce and chili powder added a bit of a spicy kick and the lemon juice offered up some fresh zing to balance the dish out. This salad can be thrown together pretty quickly after work, making it a great choice to bring to a potluck. You can make it even easier to put together by doing all your chopping the night before.
Mexican Bean Salad
* Stick with using frozen corn which stays crisp when it thaws, the canned stuff is a bit on the mushy side.