Hearty Bean & Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette


Hearty Bean & Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

One of the things that I’m most enthusiastic about in what I do is breaking down myths about Mexican food and also about Mexicans. One of the biggest misconceptions is that Mexican food is greasy, fatty, cheesy and overloaded in heavy amounts of condiments. Some of the dishes that crossed the Mexican border and have become popular in the US, have been re-interpreted and promoted by the US fast food industry. Yet, mega burrito bombs, nachos smothered in cheese, and sizzling fajitas with scoops of sour cream on top are things you will have a really hard time finding in Mexico.

One thing that surprises people who delve a bit more into the Mexican culinary world is how crazy we are about salads. Not taco salads, no, no, no… Wholesome salads that use vegetables and beans and grains and flowers and all kinds of dried chiles and herbs…

It may be that the Mexican use of the word salad “ensalada” doesn’t help much to spread this good information because we usually call “ensalada” when there is lettuce or leafy greens in it. This leaves out chayote en vinagre, calabacitas en escacheche (pickled zucchini salad), nopalitos, and a gazillion other salads named simply by their main ingredient.

Mexican salads are so fascinating that I dedicated an entire chapter to them in my cookbook. They tend to be easy to make, and there always tends to be something exotic or interesting going on. A hibiscus flower vinaigrette, crunchy and watery jícama, or quickly pickled ancho chiles, super crispy and sweet garnishes like caramelized pecans or peanuts, spiced pepitas, or toasted sunflower seeds, just to name some.

Salads are usually dressed up in an oil and vinegar treatment, and Mexican cooks get very creative with them. We whip up vinaigrettes quickly, either in the blender or simply shaking them up in a jar. After they are made they can be refrigerated and re-used, with just a re-shake to emulsify. Every Mexican home that I know, has their home staple vinaigrettes of choice.

Pick a flavor of your choice: say, cilantro! Fresh, grassy, strong.


Don’t like cilantro? Pick another one, such as chives, tarragon, mint, parsley… a combination of many.

But stick with me on cilantro for this one. This is one of my regular vinaigrettes. All you do is add the ingredients in a blender, puree, done. Don’t be deterred. In less time than it takes to run to the store for a bottle, you have a tastier one made at home.

cilantro vinaigrette

You can use it in a regular green salad, over tomato and mozzarella, soaking up other cooked vegetables like green beans or asparagus and sprinkled with fresh cheese. I tried it with this combination of corn, hearts of palm and black and garbanzo beans, and we all went wild over it. So many textures, so many flavors, so many colors, so very playful.

It can be your main dish, anytime of the year, with some crusty bread on the side. It can also be a great side salad for your barbecues and picnics in the summertime.

bean and corn salad

Hearty Bean & Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

Ensalada de Frijol, Garbanzo y Elote con Vinagreta de Cilantro
6 to 8 servings
Pati Jinich
Course: Salad
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: bell peppers, black beans, chickpeas, cilantro, Corn, garbanzo beans, hearts of palm, Recipe, red onion, red wine vinegar, salad, vinaigrette
Author:Pati Jinich
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Salads are usually dressed up in an oil and vinegar treatment, and Mexican cooks get very creative with them. We whip up vinaigrettes quickly, either in the blender or simply shaking them up in a jar. After they are made they can be refrigerated and re-used, with just a re-shake to emulsify. Every Mexican home that I know, has their home staple vinaigrettes of choice. Pick a flavor of your choice: say, cilantro! Fresh, grassy, strong.


For the salad:

  • 1 15.5oz can black beans, drained and rinsed, or 1 ¾ cups black beans from the pot , drained
  • 1 15.5oz can garbanzo beans or chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or 1 ¾ cups cooked garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 15.2oz can corn, drain and rinsed, or 1 ¾ cup fresh or frozen corn kernels cooked
  • 1 14oz can hearts of palm, rinsed and cut into 1/4-inch rounds
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion

For the vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves, and upper stems, roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, or more to taste

To Prepare

  • Place all the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a blender and puree until smooth. You may make the vinaigrette up to a week ahead and store covered in the refrigerator. If made ahead, whisk with a fork or whisk to re-emulsify prior to using. You may also shake it in the covered container.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine black beans, garbanzo beans, corn, red bell pepper and red onion. Pour vinaigrette and combine well. Add hearts of palm, gently toss and serve.

58 comments on “Hearty Bean & Corn Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

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  1. As a Cuban America .. I found your show so exciting. Love your recipes because they are so healthy. I made this and it’s great for a hot Miami summer.

  2. Great! It was really good with the cheese. We are primarily used to Mexican food that has been Americanized. But we have really enjoyed trying your recipes. I didn’t leave a comment on the first recipe we tried, but it was the “Tacos de Lingua.” The Salsa Verde was so easy to make as well, and so full of flavor. We used the left over salsa with our eggs (yes, our own hens as well) the morning! We just got a hog back from butchering that we raised, so I am going to look for some recipes calling for pork. If you have any specific suggestions please let us know. Thanks again!

  3. Pati, thank you for this recipe! My family and I love it! The only thing I changed was I added a small amount of fresh goat cheese that my wife makes from our goat milk on our small farm. Is it OK to use goat cheese in traditional Mexican cooking?


  4. I am saving this for later! 🙂 After realizing I am sensitive to nightshades, especially chili peppers, I find I miss Mexican dishes and was searching for recipes I could easily adapt without taking away too much from the original recipe. I would like to try this out!

    Thanks so much for the inspiration! 🙂

  5. Pati….I caught your show while changing channels a saw the episode with the red snapper…you were so interesting I watched till the end and than there was the tequila you were drinking but it was water ..everybody on show laughed and so did I…I’m hooked in like a fish in the water …you great but it gets better..I went on your web site and made the dish above..not I’m no where near a chef but after I put this very simple dish together ..wow….like you say the colors ..the taste…unbelievable dish so simple…looking forward to making many more of your reciepies and I am telling everyone about you…don’t know how long you’ve been around but think its time for r. Ray to step aside cause pati is here !!!!! Congratulations !!!!

    1. Hola Mike, You are making me laugh; thank you SO MUCH for your message!! I hope you make some of my dishes for your friends. Let me know if you ever have questions…

      1. Thank you so much for your response…..you have a fantastic personality and are very attractive….sort of wish I could make you a dinner …..lol. Will be watching …lay off that tequila !!!!!!!!

  6. I made this last night and it was delicious! We had a friend over and between the 3 of us we just about ate the whole bowl of salad! Thank you for another fantastic recipe.

  7. that’s how I feel! pati’s book and style are ‘accessible’. I had two rick bayless books……pretty, and useless to me. maybe its me, but ‘go pati!’ i gotta cook something!

  8. i do not like the web site because evertime i try to get a recipe it takes me to the blog and does not take me to the recipe i want i really like the show but the website is just to hard to use

    1. Hola Ann, Thank you so much for taking the time to write me about your concern! The recipes are always at the end of the blog post, so you just need to scroll to the end and you’ll find them…

  9. Dear Pati,
    I just wanted to say thanks for your great book! I’d pre-ordered it and was so exited when it arrived. I have a Diane Kennedy book and must say it intimidates me…makes Mexican cuisine sound really complicated. Your book makes it simple. I have to make a few substitutions here and there as I can’t get poblanos here in Germany, e.g. but find that green bell peppers work allright. SPecial thanks goes to the Fish Rodrigo and MahiMahi w/ poblanos – the best fish recipes I’ve made in years. Today I’ll make the Tamarind chicken. I love Tamarind but didn’t know it was popular in Mexican cooking as well. Looking forward to your next book!
    Best wishes, Sanni

  10. Yumm, can’t wait to try this. I just printed this recipe at work and one of the Mexican ladies I work with said she had to have a print-out, too!

  11. Pati, I made the bean and corn salsa again. I added 1 cup of blond quinoa that I cooked in 2 cups of chicken broth. Once again your recipe hit the spot. Thanks

  12. this WAS delicious. I added about 8 ounces of salad-size pasta (I used ditalini), and it became a wonderful pasta salad! thanks!

  13. I follow your blog and enjoy your recipes so much. Thank you! I keep hoping a recipe for the spicy carrots served in San Diego Mexican restaurants will make it to the website, they are so good and I”m sure are very simple to make…but I haven’t been able to even come close. I bought some recently in a pint size platic container that were very good. They were made by a company that makes a very good salsa. The company is named Oscar’s Homemade Salsa and they are located at 684 Anita St., Suite D2, Chula Vista, CA 91911. The 100% fresh ingredients are listed in this order: carrots, water, vinegar, onions, mixed peppers, garlic, salt, and spices. The phone is listed on the container as (619) 621-5483. Website is OscarsHomemadeSalsa.com. I’m hoping, of course, that with your reputation as a famous Mexican cooking expert, you will be able to get the recipe, proportioned correctly for the home cook, with instructions for preparation and a complete listing of ingredients (what spices?? what peppers?? and what type of vinegar??)

    Now for the funny part… I live about 15 miles away from Chula Vista, lived there for several years, and worked at non-profit community center on Anita Street. I’m going to check the website to see if I can figure out anything…and to keep myself from storming their facility! I hope your efforts are more sensible and thus more productive.

    Thank you so much for sharing your recipes and your expertise with us.

    Ann Sanderson

  14. sounds wonderful. hearts of palm are delicious (be sure to rinse). and beans are the best thing one can eat! for those who don’t like raw peppers, try peeling them with a good veg. peeler. probably reduces pesticide exposure also. pati’s recipes are timeless.

  15. Pati,
    I made this last night for my daughters high school graduation dinner. My family loved it. I didn’t deviate at all from your recipe although my wife thought sliced banana would have been a delicious addition. I’ll add it next time and let you know how it tastes.

    1. Hola Miguel, Please give my congratulations to your daughter! I’m so happy you tried this salad for the occasion. I’m very interested to hear how it tastes with bananas; let me know…

  16. Hola Pati,

    I’m exicited to try out the cilantro vinaigrette. Do you by any chance have a recipe for “Sopa de Caracol” (Conch Soup)? I’ve tried some of your prior dishes and they have come out terrific! Thank you for sharing your great talent! Jeanne

    1. Thank you Jeanne! Now you made me so very curious about the Caracol Soup: Was it tomato based by any chance? can you describe it a bit? I will research for you.

  17. Hi Pati, Thanks for the simple yet delicious Cilantro vinaigrette. Was thinking next time to give a kick add a little pepper or Dijon mustard. I have to agree, Mexican food is so delicious, I especially love their soups. 🙂

  18. Hola, Pati.

    El otro día hice de cenar, entre otras cosas, tu mole de calabaza y chile ancho y, de postre, los cochinitos. ¡Qué cena más deliciosa! Mil gracias por tus recetas. Me fascina tu programa. Por cierto, ¿cuándo empieza la tercera temporada?

    Otra pregunta, ¿de qué parte de México eres? Saludos afectuosos,

    Max (un chilango que vive en Boston)

    1. Gracias Max!!! Que lindo leer este mensaje. Estamos ahorita en producción de la Tercera temporada, así que saldrá al aire como en unos seis meses (enero 2014). Yo soy del D.F. Saludos desde DC!

  19. What are hearts of palm and what do they taste like? Also how do you measure fresh herbs, do you loosely pack or really stuff them in?