Party Food: Corn Relish & Black Beans

When I came up for the theme of my Blog or Bust event, I underestimated the trouble I would have coming up with a suitable recipe. The theme is healthy party food. It should have been a snap, I’ve cooked for many parties with a high percentage of good outcomes (save some very strange Danish potatoes) and healthy food is something I’m good at. When I remembered some of the foods I’ve cooked at parties—fried chicken, paella cooked in chorizo fat, steak covered in a butter-wine sauce, green beans simmered in bacon fat and Parmesan cheese, etc, I realized I cook healthy at home, but when I cook for a group, I strive for inordinate amounts of fat and cholesterol. Maybe I’m trying to make my friends fat. Or maybe I use parties as an excuse to over-indulge, since my favorite way to over-indulge is to cook the food myself. Either way, I have a complex.

I brainstormed all month about what healthy party food I could make, and then POOF, like magic, I won Jasper White’s Summer Shack Cookbook from Serious Eats. I’m absolutely in love with this unpretentious, shore food book. It’s a summer must-have, and thrown my into full beach mode—which is good timing since I’m going on a little VACATION to East Hampton tomorrow (YAY!!!)

There’s a recipe for corn relish in this book which made me think “healthy alternative to beef chili on your hot dog.” So, if you do not have the willpower to withstand a hot dog at your next party, make this relish to go with it, and commend yourself on the calories saved! It also works fantastically on fish, so you can take the step further into healthiness and serve some grilled salmon and corn relish at your next get together. Grilled fish is so hot right now.

Corn Relish

adapted from The Summer Shack Cookbook*

  • 8 ears corn, husks and silks removed
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp celery seeds
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 Tbsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  1. In a large bowl with a sharp knife, slice the kernels off the raw corn, holding the ear upright and using downward strokes of the knife. Scrape pulp off the ears of corn, discard cobs.
  2. In a heavy medium saucepan, combine ingredients from cider vinegar to cornstarch. Bring to boil over medium heat.
  3. Add diced peppers and onion and cook until tender (10 minutes.)
  4. Add corn and cook for another 5-10 minutes. Allow to cool and divide into jars. This makes about 5 cups of relish.

*adapted because (even though I feel silly contradicting such a great chef like Jasper White) I thought the recipe had too much vinegar. I lessened the vinegar and sugar and also the celery seeds (the recipe actually calls for another 1/4 tsp) because I don’t like them much. I also omitted mustard seeds because I didn’t have any on hand. If you have them, add in 1/2 tsp.

Being that I didn’t actually have this relish at a party, but made it to use with dinners all week—5 cups of the stuff was A LOT. Not wanting any to go to waste, I thought up a bean recipe, which turns out is another party-worthy food. Even though this recipe uses a whole cup of cheese, I would call it healthy (especially alongside macaroni salad and burgers at parties) and it’s a great vegetarian side or small meal. If you make the relish, or even if you substitute a quick mixture of corn, peppers, onion, vinegar and some spices, make these beans. They are good. Cheesy, satisfyingly good.

Best Black Beans

  • 1 1/2 cups corn relish
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 Pablano pepper, sliced
  • 2 (15 oz) cans black beans, one half of second can mashed with back of fork
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese (I used Canadian cheddar)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • olive oil
  1. Coat a medium saucepan with olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic cloves and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add Pablano peppers and cook another 2 minutes.
  2. Add black beans and cook 3-5 minutes. Add cumin, cayenne, corn relish and cheddar cheese. Cook until beans are tender and cheese is melted.
  3. Serve with sour cream or extra cheese on top if you like!



2 thoughts on “Party Food: Corn Relish & Black Beans”

  1. Oh hells yeah. I’m a black bean fanatic (any time we cook anything remotely close to Spanish or Mexican cuisine I try to work them in) and I’m always looking for stuff my girlfriend and I both like. Plenty of veggie for her, plenty of cheese for me. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. Oh crud…don’t tell me I missed this. My 5 year old had 4 surgeries on Monday and I have been out of the loop. I won’t be on time, but I’ll submit an entry on my blog this week with a link to this event. Sorry I missed it!

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