I grew up in the Midwest, where thousands of families flock to the closest body of water on weekends and holidays alternately to relax, and punish themselves with all sorts of water sports, which leave them groaning and aching on Monday mornings. Spending the entire day baking in the sun, with the sound of boat engines and waves lapping in the background, and the complete exhaustion that comes at the end of a day at the lake, is one of my fondest childhood memories.
And what would a fond memory be without some reference to the food that was enjoyed during those blissful times? There was a tiny place on the lake where we boated, and now have a lake house, which we called "McGoos". The origin of this name is somewhat of a mystery, since the actual name is "Gordy's", but we like the name, and so that's what we call it. We would pull our boat up to the dock in front of McGoo's, hop onto the scorching deck, high-step it the 30 feet or so to the inevitable line forming outside the tiny shack that is McGoo's, and wait in line, discussing whether it would be a hamburger, hot dog, or a soggy that day. For those of you unfamiliar with a Soggy, it is a an ode to what the Midwest does best; simple comfort food. Some cubes of leftover french bread (more likely italian beef buns) are drenched in Au Jus, and covered in a layer of mozzarella cheese, which is toasted until hot and covered with golden bubbles. There is nothing sexy or terribly attractive about a soggy, but in the world of comfort food, it reigns supreme.
When we were invited last week to spend the weekend at our friend Josh's family lakehouse, we wanted to bring something along that would sustain us all for the weekend - a snack that everyone would enjoy, and that was easy to make. Nowadays, there are so many things that I like to call Lake Food, I've realized that this classification falls upon anything that tastes even more delicious eaten in the sun, accompanied by an ice cold beer. We decided to make Black Bean Salsa, which is our becoming a classic in our house, because you can make a gigantic bowl, and feast upon it for days.
This salsa is like a meal...chock full of beans, avocado, big chunks of tomato, and corn, it is deeply satisfying, and tastes delicious atop a salty chip, washed down with a fine American brew. This salsa happens to be Dustin's specialty, and he never cooks from a recipe, so I'll give general measurements, because really, everything is to taste. After two full days of wakeboarding, toasting ourselves in the sun, and emptying our gigantic cooler of beer, the salsa was gone, and we were sun-kissed and exhausted - a wonderful way to end a weekend.
Black Bean Salsa
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 ears corn, either boiled or roasted
2 large or 3 medium tomatoes, cut into small chunks and drained
2 firm-ripe avocados, cut into medium chunks
1 red onion, diced small
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch of cilantro
Red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper
Place the black beans into a large serving bowl. After the corn has cooled, cut the kernels off the cob and add to the black beans, along with the tomatoes, red onion, and garlic. Toss to combine.
Drizzle the mixture with olive oil and about 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, or to taste. Squeeze the limes over the mixture, and season with salt and pepper. Let the mixture sit for about fifteen minutes before tasting for seasonings again.
You can wait until just before serving to add the avocado chunks and chopped cilantro, but we add it all at once - after awhile the avocado will start to break down, but it usually last a full day or two before that happens.
Also keep in mind that you can add anything you think would be tasty to this salsa - it's as flexible as you are. We added fresh basil and mint from our garden this time, since we have an abundance of both!