Bagged Lunch Ideas: Black Bean, Corn, and Red Pepper Salad Wraps

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At Monica's engagement party in Baltimore the other day, I fell in love with a wonderful black bean, corn, and pico de gallo dip made by Monica's cousin Danielle. This thing was so good that I seriously I parked myself near the table and spent most of the night shamelessly scooping it up with salty tortilla chips. I ate about 1/2 the bowl when I had to stop since the chips had run out.

Ever since we got back to New York, I've had the combination on my mind and knew that I wanted to recreate something similar  I could eat for lunch at my desk.  I came up with the idea of turning the dip into a wrap that can be easily constructed right at my desk.

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As a bagged lunch, the concept is simple--first you toss together the filling--an easy bean salad that can be made in advance--and then you pack up a portion of it topped with a generous sprinkle of shredded cheese. A whole wheat tortilla or wrap is rolled up and brought along separately. Come lunch time, you simply place your container of bean salad and cheese in the microwave for 30-45 seconds--just long enough to melt the cheese--and then scoop it all into the tortilla. Roll and enjoy at your desk or wherever you normally eat lunch. Preparing it this way protects the integrity of the tortilla, keeping it so that it doesn't get soggy sitting in your lunch bag all day.

I actually also eat this for breakfast sometimes--it's a great way to get a little protein in the morning when you're sick of eggs. The salad can, of course, also be eaten on its own, or served for dinner along with accompanying garnishes.

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A few notes about this recipe:
  1. Since it's winter, I used frozen bagged corn that I steamed before adding to the salad. But when corn is in season in a few months, I will definitely take advantage of the amazing fresh corn available and use that. Just know that both options are OK. (I wouldn't recommend canned; canned corn always tastes metallic to me--not good ever, but especially not when it's the star player.)
  2. Be sure to rinse your canned beans well before using; it gets rid of excess sodium and that stinky sludge at the bottom of the can. I just toss mine into a mesh strainer and run under cold tap water for a minute or so until the beans are clean without any of that inky sauce left on them.
  3. The southwest influences in this recipe scream for black beans, but if you don't have any or need to use up another variety! I bet navy, pinto, or even black-eyed peas would be awesome in it! 
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Black Bean, Corn, and Red Pepper Salad Wraps
Assembling these just before eating help the wrap from getting soggy. It's not required, but definitely recommended!

Ingredients:
2 cans low-sodium black beans, drained and rinsed well until water runs clear
2 cups cooked corn kernels (fresh or frozen is fine!)
2 small jalapeno peppers, seeded and diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup roasted red pepper, drained and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of two fresh limes (about 2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon your favorite hot sauce (I recommend Chipotle tabasco--adds a great smokiness!)
Salt and pepper

For Serving:
flour tortillas (I like whole wheat)
shredded Cheddar or jack cheese
Fresh cilantro, washed with heavy stems removed, chopped coarsely


Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the rinsed and drained black beans, corn kernels, diced jalapeno, diced onion, and roasted red pepper. Toss to distribute evenly and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the minced garlic, olive oil, lime juice, and hot sauce. Pour dressing over bean mixture and toss to coat. Season with salt and black pepper. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

To serve, cover portion with shredded cheese and heat in microwave (or toaster oven) just until the cheese melts. Scoop into flour tortilla and top with fresh cilantro.

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