Last weekend, I took my first ever solo road trip to visit my best friend, Carolyn, in Atlanta. Granted, in retrospect, a 6 hour drive is really not that bad, but for someone who had only driven a long distance solo once before, it was a bit daunting. Now, don’t get me wrong, I actually love road trips, I just don’t like driving. Of course when I first got my license (omgg sweet 16, like #driving), driving was grrreat because, to a 16 year old, driving means freedom. But to a 23 year old, driving means dealing with idiots who don’t know how to drive, leg cramps, ass cramps, neck cramps, and road rage. I love being in the car… as a passenger. As a kid, my parents and I would take road trips all the time. In fact, as much as we traveled, the first time I was on a plane wasn’t until I was around 10 years old, and that’s only because you can’t drive to Paris. Therefore, I’ve perfected the art of being a passenger. I can sit silently and stare out a window for hours on end, although road trips are exceedingly more fun if you have someone to chat with (hence my dislike of solo road trips).
But road trips as a driver? As the only driver? I had always been ambivalent of such trips, even though this says nothing about my qualities as a driver- I’m a safe driver, an efficient driver, a smart driver… I just don’t like it. Furthermore, the thought of driving hours and hours alone always makes me fear falling asleep at the wheel (which I’ve, thankfully, never even come close too, but stress-over-everything Nika must always consider worst case scenarios… I get that from my mom) or dying from boredom, figuratively or literally (boredom=sleepy=peril). My brain is so optimistic, eh?
Prior to this trip to Atlanta, I had one other solo road trip experience- driving the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to Livermore (about an hour east of San Francisco). So you may be thinking “uh that’s a 7-8 hour drive, why did you even bat an eye about driving to Atlanta?” Well, for one, I split the trip into two days. And secondly, I drove on the Pacific Coast Highway, and driving alongside this was just awful, let me tell ya.
Regardless, I made it Atlanta and back without a hitch. Well, except the Starbucks detour on my way down there that set me back an hour. Seriously, what is it about Starbucks that compels us to seek out the caffeine gods at all costs? At the midway point of my drive, I searched for nearby Starbucks, and my iPhone informed me there was one 30 minutes away in Athens. Awesome, lead the way, Siri. Except that bitch Siri led to me a random ass Family Dollar parking lot with no Starbucks (or major forms of Starbuck-like civilization) in sight. Le sigh. The nearest Starbucks then was another 30+ minutes away and was, naturally, no where close to the interstate. I had already wasted 30 minutes on this coffee endeavor and didn’t even really want it at that point, but it was the principle of the matter- I had already hemorrhaged precious travel time driving to find this elusive skinny cinnamon dolcé latté with soy milk, so I had to get one now, regardless of the cost. Long story short, I finally got my coffee, but lost an hour to this excursion. On the other hand, on the way home, I got my coffee before I even got on the interstate (ha! take that!) and then powered through, saving 30 minutes off my ETA. Now that I knew that I could handle a solo road trip, I pretty much felt like a BAMF, sup.
Plus the whole thing was totally worth it because I got to be reunited with my best friend since 6th grade, Miss Carolyn, the lovely lady who brought you this recipe. This girl is my favorite, and even though we are now separated by six hours of interstate and state lines, she knows me better than anyone. Forget merely finishing each other’s sentences, we don’t even need to verbally communicate because we have mastered the art of the conversation via look, which was quite convenient in class during high school.
Therefore, my trip to Atlanta to see Carolyn is the inspiration for today’s recipe. Carolyn introduced me to her avocado, black bean, and corn salsa, and I was hooked. I knew I had to make it as soon as I got home, and I wanted to add my own twist to her mouthwatering recipe- mango, red pepper, and cilantro. Other than those three ingredients, everything is identical to the Chef Carolyn original.
1 can of black beans
1 can of corn
¼ cup red pepper, chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar (I used a pomegranate infused one)
Salt and pepper, to taste
1. Add 1 can of black beans and 1 can of corn to a large bowl
2. Dice 2 avocados, 2 tomatoes, 1 mango, ½ onion, and ¼ cup of red pepper and add to the bowl.
3. Add the juice of 1 freshly squeezed lime and 1 tbsp red wine vinegar.
4. Season with salt and pepper to taste and cilantro (if desired).
5. Mix together well, evenly distributing the ingredients. Eat with chips as a dip, eat it solo as a salad, or use it as a topping! It’s delicious and versatile.
Beans and corn, the base to this delicious concoction.
Add two diced tomatoes. I was fortunate enough to be able to use some organic homegrown tomatoes from my mom’s garden.
Add diced onion. I used ½ of a medium-sized onion, or you could use a whole small onion.
Now things are getting good. Dice two ripe avocados and add to the bowl.
Time to get fruity- dice one ripe mango and add to the salsa.
Finishing touches: add the juice of one freshly squeezed lime, 1 tbsp of pomegranate red wine vinegar, and your cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Mix well for an even distribution of delicious ingredients.
If you can manage the patience to not eat it straight from the bowl (this is the most difficult step of the recipe), plate as desired and garnish with some fresh cilantro.