I had a Mexican flatmate when I lived in Florence many moons ago. We bonded over our shared love of Nutella and bad reality television in Italian (especially Grande Fratello, aka Big Brother). We both loved to eat, and had a merry time cruising the bars of Florence in the late afternoon. If you arrive at the right time, you can order a drink and help yourself to a full selection of aperativi. When you’re a poor student, this was akin to hitting the jackpot.
We also both suffered from the occasional bouts of homesickness, especially for family and food. As much as I love Italian food, eating it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner was a challenge when you’re an Aussie girl used to eating stir-fries and curries as much as pasta and risotto. So we’d trek to a funny little Asian grocer (is there any other kind?) on a street adjacent to the San Lorenzo food market in search of “exotic” ingredients like rice, soy sauce and tortillas. Much to Ana’s dismay, the only Mexican ingredients that were stocked were of the non-authentic variety. “Tex-Mex”, as she called it.
I shared with her the “Mexican” food that I had tried up to that point, which embarassingly consisted mostly of Old El Paso tacos. She wasn’t impressed. I’d like to think she’d be more of approving of the recent influx of Mexican restaurants in Australia – Mamasita, El Topo and the like.
This Mexican bean salad draws on some of the flavours that I associate with Mexico. Avocado, lime and coriander, for example. I’m guessing this is not an authentic dish. But it is a fast one, and the kids are thrilled to eat chips for dinner. With my apologies, Ana.
- dash olive oil
- 1 medium brown onion, chopped finely
- 400g can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- ½ cup tomato passata
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 200g cheddar cheese, grated
- 200g packet lightly salted corn chips (see tip)
- 3 large tomatoes, diced
- 1 avocado, sliced
- 1 capsicum, sliced thinly
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- ½ iceberg lettuce, sliced finely
- 1 bunch coriander, to serve
- ½ cup sour cream, to serve
- To make beans, heat olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes, or until softened. Add beans, passata, spices and salt. Simmer for 6 minutes, adding water if the mixture gets too dry.
- Meanwhile, prepare your salad ingredients and arrange on a large platter.
- To serve, place salad platter and beans in centre of table, along with coriander and sour cream, if desired.
I use the Byron Bay Chilli Co. corn chips - they have much less salt than other brands.
If you like a little more oomph, add chilli powder to the beans at the same time as the other spices.