Being in the desert southwest for nearly 25 years and getting hooked up with DH several years earlier than that has changed my cooking style and ingredients considerably. I’ve lived in every section of the country except the Pacific Northwest. One of my favorite activities (Oh, stop it! You knew I was weird.) is grocery shopping in my new locale.
In the deep South for instance, I was amazed at the types and brands of grits for sale. In the desert Southwest, you can buy bags of beans and rice at the grocery store. A quick trip around a store, really looking at products, gives a sense of the “flavor” of the area, even in a more homogenous society via advertising. Local tastes, so to speak, will still prevail.
My own little desert rat DH loves Sonoran desert cuisine. Not nearly so hot as Tex-Mex or New Mexico cuisine, the chilies in Sonoran food tickle the palate rather than scorch it off.
To that end, I have learned to cook differently than farm country Ohio where the bottle of hot sauce sat on the table to give some zip to bland foods. The first time I ever cut fresh chilies . . . well, that’s a sad/funny tale for another time. Today, I share a variation on my Hermosillo Salsa (see link on the side to the YouTube cooking school video) for bite-sized snacking. This is a hearty, protein-laden appetizer I pair with grapes.
Black Bean Bites (makes about 30)
½ cup black beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup Mexicorn, drained
1 Roma tomato, finely diced
1 tablespoon canned chilies (choose your heat level--I use mild)
handful of fresh cilantro, shredded
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon lime juice
zest of ½ lime
Scoopable tortilla chips (Tostitos is one brand)
Thoroughly blend beans, corn, and tomato. Stir in chiles, cilantro, olive oil, lime juice and zest. Refrigerate for at least two hours, giving a stir after one hour. Serve by placing the mixture into individual depressions of the chips.
Tip: Sitting for a while can make the chips soggy. Fill only enough for a couple per person initially. You can always fill more chips quickly if needed.
DH’s Rating: Five Tongues Up! This is one of his all-time favorites. Any leftovers are gone the next day.