Fiesta Salad!

Fiesta Salad!

As summer starts to wind up here in southern Chandler, I can’t help but feel a little excited….I love the heat, the late night swims and the pervasive scent of sunscreen and salsa.While most people dread the impending climb in daytime highs, I relish the sound of cicadas, the crank of the a/c and the weekend whir of the blender whipping up something cool and frothy to delightfully quench the proverbial desert thirst.

We are fortunate here in Arizona to enjoy the taste of summer regardless of the season; our abundant citrus, fresh peppers and year-round grilling weather allow us to partake of great local flavors on a whim.Nothing bespeaks the southwest better than dining al fresco, and any dish that can be made ahead or doesn’t require strict temperature control is perfect for family dinners outside or the casual home happy hour. One of my favorite summer dishes is the classic Fiesta Salad, a mélange of fresh veggies, fruit and beans make it a versatile dish to serve anytime, anywhere.I like it best on a bed of spring greens and arugula with a chilled glass of Sauvignon Blanc on the side; my kids eat it straight from the bowl with tortilla chips.

Anyway you serve it is good, but its best served with family and friends and the cool summer attitude that only Arizonans possess.Cheers!

Fiesta Salad

2 large tomatoes, diced

Half a red onion, diced

1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup of sweet corn kernels

1 orange bell pepper, diced

2 avocados, diced

2 fresh limes, juiced

1 mango, diced (pineapple or watermelon works too)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

Small bunch of cilantro *

1 tsp. each of sea salt and cumin

Black pepper to taste

Queso Fresco, crumbled **

Whisk lime juice and spices together and add diced avocado immediately to keep from browning.After dicing, mix everything together and let marinate in the fridge for a few hours before serving.Great as a side for grilled fish or chicken, or make a ‘burrito bar’ and put out grilled protein, shredded cheese, tortillas, sour cream and wrap how you like.

*As not everyone loves cilantro, use small, mismatched vases or shot glasses in vibrant colors, add water and cilantro bunches for a unique, decorative table decoration where guests can pick their own leaves as they want.

** Queso Fresco is creamy, crumbly cheese usually made in Mexico and is great for melting or crumbled on salads, beans, enchiladas and more.Usually found near the ricotta and feta cheeses, both of which can be substituted if needed.