Savory fall sides: Esquites and charred green beans with homemade harissa / by Clare Johnson

Smoky esquites and charred green beans added a bright pop of color and some seriously bold flavor to our fall salon feast at Antique Taco. Both recipes were created as a nod to our incredible host, made all the more beautiful by the Guest Room's hand-painted tableware. 

The first recipe is Esquites, a traditional Mexican corn salad. The ingredients are simple: fresh corn, cilantro, mayonnaise or sour cream, red pepper and a touch of crumbled cotija cheese. 

The first step is to cook the corn. Remove the kernels from the cob (use about 6 ears for 4-6 servings) and give them a quick rinse. Place a dry pan on your stove and turn it to high heat. The key is to char the kernels for a nice, smoky flavor. Let the kernels cook for about 15 minutes or until golden brown. 

After the kernels have charred, chop the red pepper into small pieces and mix it with the corn. Add the mayonnaise/sour cream, cilantro and cheese.  Use however much of each ingredient to your liking. We recommend 2-3 tbsp of both cream and cheese and a handful of cilantro leaves. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve it family style of in small dishes.

The second dish is our green beans with harissa sauce. This dish combines all the elements of the "burnout" theme with charred green beans, burnt harissa and toasted almonds. 

For this recipe, you'll need: one bunch of fresh green beans, harissa sauce (homemade or store bought), and toasted almonds for garnish. 

First, clean and trim the ends of your green beans. Once cleaned, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a hot sauté pan.  Place the green beans in the sauté pan and heat for a few minutes. They cook quickly so don't wander far! The objective is to keep the beans a nice blanched green with a bit of char. 

After the beans are cooked, it's time to create the harissa. If you're feeling up to making your own, we highly recommend Smitten Kitchen's homemade harissa. Lightly dress your green beans with harissa and top them with the toasted almonds. To toast almonds, simply roast them for 5-10 minutes in a 350 degree oven. 

Serve these sides with our golden chicken and lemon salsa verde for one beautifully bright plate.