Monday, April 16, 2012

Picnic Season Is Here!

Grazing In the Grass by The Friends of Distinction
I was down at our Community Center on Saturday for my friend Erin's reception.  The inside was decorated so beautifully - it was a sight to behold!  But one of the best features of this center is that the one wall is floor to ceiling glass and affords a view of our small metropolis' crowning feature - the slow and graceful Columbia River.  There is a stretch of green between the center and the river bank with trees and picnic tables and play areas and, as the day was absolutely perfect in every imaginable way, the place was crowded with friends and families out with their picnic baskets, soaking it all up.  Picnic season is here at last!  Time for backyard BBQs, patio parties, and deck shin-digs!  Suddenly I'm in the mood for salads again - and songs that make me want to sink my toes deep into lush, green grass.  Cue the Friends of Distinction!  Any song that can say "dig it" about 60 times in less than three minutes makes me happy. I'm sure you'll have fun trying to sing along and saying "dig it" without becoming tongue-tied.  Make this yummy salad, have some friends over to share, and then make a game out of it!  Let me know how it goes!

We have a little cafe down the road that is perfect for our neighborhood.  She offers breakfast and lunch and delicious baked goodies.  My friends and I like to meet there for lunch and, when my family is in town, we look forward to a Saturday morning breakfast trip.  We moved here about ten years ago and I'm pretty sure this place has been here the whole time, although it has changed owners and has expanded quite a bit.  It's a popular place.  Know why?  Because the food is simply good and the service is friendly.  And, as far as I'm concerned, it's because she has this Black Bean Salad offered as a side option to her sandwiches.

Not many places offer Black Bean Salad as a side option.  I was intrigued the first time they rattled off the list - "Pasta Salad, Potato Salad, Black Bean Salad, ...."  Now, wait a minute!  Black Bean Salad?!  I'll try that, thinking along the lines of my Mom's Three Bean Salad.  When they assured me that it was delicious and even offered to change my side - for free - if I didn't like it - well, that yells confidence to me and I can't resist a helping of a confident dish!

It was beautiful!  Yes, she made black beans beautiful!  And it was super delicious as well - AND I have had it every single time I've gone there ever since.  That's almost ten years of Black Bean Salad!  Plenty of time to taste and decipher it's goodness and come up with what I think is a decent copy.  The dressing took the longest time to figure out - it was slightly sweet.  My friend served this dressing
on another salad once and I shouted "Eureka!" (in my head, of course) as I knew it was perfect for the black beans project.  And it makes the prep for this salad even easier!  The avocados are my own addition.  The cafe's version doesn't use them, but I like the creamy element they add.

So start planning picnics and parties because you've found something quick, delicious, and tasty to share! "Can you dig it?"

Black Bean Salad
Printable Recipe Card
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can corn niblets, drained
2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and chopped ( I use orange for the color presentation)
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, chopped (optional)
1/2 - 3/4 c. of Briannas Blush Wine Vinaigrette Dressing
Salt and Pepper to taste

Empty the cans of black beans into a colander and drain and rinse.  Add to a serving bowl.  Open the corn and drain the liquid off and add to beans.  Chop your tomatoes, bell peppers, white onion, and cilantro and add to the bowl.  If you add avocado, wait until right before serving to chop and add them so they don't discolor.  Pour the dressing over the ingredients and stir to coat.  Taste and add the salt and pepper as desired.  You're done!  Enjoy the compliments and the food!


  1. Oh I love this salad! I can't wait to try it with the avocado!

    1. It's just that much better!! Hope you enjoy it!