Recipe courtesy of Norman Van Aken

Black Bean, Tropical Fruit and Queso Blanco Salsa

My talented friend chef Douglas Rodriguez gave me the inspiration for this salsa at a fantastic party he threw. Queso blanco, a staple of Latin cuisine, is uniquely textured, simply yet assertively flavored and quite pleasant to nibble. In this recipe, the cheese balances the acidity of the orange and mango. A no-brainer with chips, queso blanco salsa is a great accompaniment to grilled chicken breasts as well. You can prepare the dressing up to a day before you assemble the salsa. And the salsa is also good a day after — assuming there is any left over.
  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 20 min
  • Prep: 15 min
  • Cook: 5 min
  • Yield: 4 servings
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Ingredients

For the Salsa:

1 cup well-rinsed, canned black beans

1/3 cup finely diced red bell pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped scallions, white and light green parts only

1 Scotch bonnet chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced

3/4 cup crumbled queso blanco

3/4 cup diced mango

1/2 cup coarsely chopped orange sections

1 1/2 teaspoons Spanish sherry vinegar

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon fresh orange juice

1 cup diced ripe avocado

For the Dressing:

1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallot

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon coarsely chopped Italian parsley

1/2 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin seeds

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Kosher salt

2 tablespoons Spanish sherry vinegar

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. To make the Salsa: In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients except the avocado in the order listed. Very gently, fold in the avocado, to avoid smashing the delicate ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  2. To make the Dressing: In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk them well. Cover and refrigerate. To serve, gently fold the dressing into the salsa. Season to taste and serve.
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