New World Chopped Salad

This salad started as a Southwest succotash side dish I had planned to sauté, but I kept snacking on it raw and finally just added a salad dressing. It has evolved over time as it always does, based on what is at market. The New World moniker of the salad refers to the “three sisters” — corn, beans, and squash — all of which formed an important, almost holy trinity of foods native to the Americas, not to mention the peppers and tomatoes.

INGREDIENTS:

3-4 ears corn, kernels cut away (save cobs for stock)
1 small to medium white or yellow onion
2-3 summer squash — enough to yield around 2 cups, different colors (preferably low moisture types such as tromboncini, Cousa, Costata Romanesco) cut into 1/4-inch dice
2-3 ripe sweet peppers, different colors preferably, but sweet and firm, diced ¼-inch
8-10 ounces (a good handful) of flat beans such as Scarlet Runners, Valencia, or Romano types, trimmed and sliced into ¼-inch pieces
2-4 scallions, trimmed, whites and greens separated, whites cut into ¼-inch slices, greens sliced finely on a steep diagonal
2-3 medium tomatoes, ripe but firm, seeded and cut into ¼-inch dice
2-4 cups Little Gem or Romaine lettuce, cleaned and cut into ¼-inch ribbons
1 cup, or as needed, Creamy Cilantro Dressing, Creamy Smoky Vinaigrette, or Southwest Cumin Coriander Vinaigrette
Salt and pepper to taste
 — Optional —
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, sliced
1-2 avocados, cut into 1/4-inch bits
1 jalapeño or serrano chile, minced, if you like it spicy
Juice of 1/2 -1 lime

METHOD:

Mix the corn, squash, onion, beans, peppers, scallion whites, and mix well to combine.

If using the chile and or cilantro, mix it in now, being sure to disperse well.

Add the tomato, lettuce, and scallion greens and gently fold into the rest of the salad.
Drizzle with half a cup of dressing and gently toss to coat. Taste and add more dressing as needed.

When dressed, taste to see if the salad needs a spark of acid (this will depend on your tomatoes having it, or not.). If so, use the lime to do this. Squeeze some on and toss.

Place salad in a serving dish or on plates and scatter with avocado, season with a little salt and pepper and serve.

YIELD: Serves: 4

Chef’s Notes:
If you find yourself with a lot of salad, or are unsure if it will all get eaten, set some aside or pass the dressing separately. The leftovers can be used as a salad later, or sautéed for a side dish. Use leftover salad in burritos with black beans and cheese or as a base for a shrimp cocktail. The undressed mélange can be stirred into eggs, or mixed with leftover grains and heated through for a lunch bowl.