Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Sun Safe Salad - and a colorful one at that

 With summer now upon us, many of us are finding ourselves participating in summer gatherings of one sort or another. One of the great things about these gatherings is sharing food with friends. Unfortunately, one of the downsides of such gatherings is the potential for bacteria to be lurking about in food. These bacteria can certainly wreak havoc on picnic gatherers as temperatures rise and the right growth medium is present in the food.
The recipe I am sharing in this post is one that is is relatively sun safe in that it doesn't include ingredients that tend to serve as a growth medium for bacteria that can cause food poisoning. It also is one that is rather colorful and tends to be a crowd pleaser. It does include some raw red onion so younger children and those with more sensitive tastes may not enjoy it as much. Nonetheless, this salad has a bit of a southwest flavor and makes a nice addition to outdoor summer picnics as well as indoor gatherings. It is also very easy to put together.
Corn and Black Bean Salad
Combine the following together in a large bowl:
  • 3 cans of black beans (I like to use the low sodium kind)
  • 2 cans of niblet corn (The picture below shows what the bean/corn mixture looks like using the proportions I have stated here.)
  • 1/2 of a large red onion, finely chopped (You can use more or less depending on your taste preference. It is raw so be aware of the strong taste. Here is a photo showing how finely I chop mine.)
  • 1 large or 1.5 medium red pepper, coarsely chopped (As with the onion, feel free to use more or less depending on your taste preference. Because the pepper adds a "sweet" taste, I tend to chop more coarsely.)
Here's an idea of what all of the vegetables will look like when you stir them together:
Now for the dressing part. I just pour the following over the chopped vegetables and stir it all together:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 or 3 splashes of Tabasco sauce
Stir it all together and give it a taste. Adjust the seasonings as you wish.

Since we are on the topic of summer foods, here are a few food safety pointers courtesy of the US Food and Drug Administration.
When packing and transporting food
  • Keep cold food cold - use ice or frozen gel packs with a goal of keeping food at 40 degrees Fahrenheit or less.
  • Organize your cooler contents - consider keeping drinks in one cooler and perishable foods in another. This helps limit the number of times you will need to open and close the cooler with perishable food.
  • Don't cross-contaminate - keep raw meats securely wrapped to avoid juices from them leaking onto food items that are intended to be eaten raw.
  • Clean your produce - wash fresh fruits and vegetables before eating them.
When serving food 
  • The main thing is to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot. In general, do not allow foods to sit out for more than 2 hours. Shorten this time to one hour if the outside temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cold foods - keep them refrigerated until it is time to serve them. You can also set dishes in a pan of ice to help keep them cool.
  • Hot foods - wrap them well and keep them in an insulated cooler until serving time. 
  • Avoid cross contamination do not reuse a plate or utensils that have been used with raw or uncooked meat, poultry, or seafood unless they have been thoroughly washed in hot, soapy water

Have a fun and healthy summer!