March 17, 2014

Cowboy Caviar

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Never mind the name – there’s nothing fancy about this black-eyed pea salad. Also known as Texas Caviar, it’s at home on the range. Scoop up your “caviar” with corn chips.

      “Caviar” for cowboys. Credit: Susan Sampson


1 recipe Lemon/Lime Garlic Dressing
1 can
black-eyed peas (14 oz/398 mL), rinsed, drained
1/2 cup (125 mL) red bell pepper, diced (1/4 inch/0.5 cm)
1/4 cup
(60 mL) each: diced red onion, coarsely chopped pickled jalapeños
1 small tomato, diced (optional)
2 tbsp
(30 mL) chopped cilantro, divided
Kosher salt to taste

Prepare Lemon/Lime Garlic Dressing, using lime juice.

Add black-eyed peas, red pepper, onion, jalapeños, tomato (if desired) and 1-1/2 tbsp (22 mL) cilantro to medium bowl. Add 3 tbsp (45 mL) dressing. Gently combine with fork.

Let sit 1 to 2 hours, until flavours to meld. If desired, add another 1 tbsp (15 mL) dressing. (You will have some left over for other uses.) Add salt. Before serving, sprinkle with remaining 1/2 tbsp (7 mL) cilantro.

Makes 2-1/2 cups (625 mL).

Make-Ahead: If you are refrigerating this salad, omit the tomato. The texture of refrigerated tomatoes is ghastly.

A Slice of History: Cowboy Caviar was invented by Helen Corbitt, chef at the upscale Neiman Marcus store in Dallas. Generally, Texans did not care for caviar, but they sure loved black-eyed peas (which BTW are actually beans). Originally, Cowboy Caviar was doused with bottled Italian dressing, but you can do better. Follow my lead and use homemade lime dressing.

Corny Cowboy Caviar
Some folks like to add corn. If you wish, add about 1/2 cup (125 mL) corn kernels.