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Are you looking for an addictive appetizer that doesn't require any complicated cooking techniques? Trust me, this crowd-pleasing cowboy caviar is a recipe you'll want to make for your next event.
The only kitchen skills you need to know are how to chop vegetables, how to juice a lime, and how to make a vinaigrette.
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Why is it called cowboy caviar?
In the 1940's, Helen Corbitt, a Neiman-Marcus chef, gets credit for making the first Texas caviar recipe on New Year's Eve in Austin, Texas with ingredients that grew in Texas. She add black eyed peas so her guests would have good luck in the new year. Cowboy caviar and Texas caviar are both popular names for this dish based on the city where it was invented.
How are black eyed peas associated with luck?
One legend says, during General Sherman's March to the Sea from Atlanta to Savannah in late 1864, he commanded the Union soldiers to leave the black eyed pea crops alone, as he thought it was food for animals. The civilians and African American slaves took that as a sign of good fortune, since it saved many families from starvation in that part of Georgia.
What is cowboy caviar made of?
- Beans: black-eyed peas, black beans
- Vegetables: bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, corn, jalapeño peppers, garlic, avocado
- Vinaigrette: olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lime juice, jalapeño brine
- Sweetener: (optional) sugar or honey
- Spices: cumin, chili powder, salt, black pepper, cilantro
Why does this have fresh lime juice?
This recipe isn't complete unless it has freshly squeezed lime juice. It is the secret ingredient, so don't leave it out.
Is this recipe healthy?
Yes, it is. Half of a cup of cowboy caviar will give you 38% of your daily requirement for vitamin C, and 16% of your daily fiber intake. This recipe is also gluten free and vegan.
A ½ cup serving size of cowboy caviar is 180 calories and has 21.7g of carbs. For more nutritional information, scroll to the bottom of the recipe card.
What to serve with this recipe
- Dip: corn or tortilla chips, Fritos
- Salsa: grilled chicken or fish
- Salad: on top of fresh green lettuce with feta cheese
- Side Dish: with scrambled eggs, on top of tacos
- Main Course: burrito bowl with rice, avocado, and taco sauce
How to Store Leftovers
- Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to two days. Keep in mind that tomatoes and avocados taste best fresh, so add those just before serving if you can.
- Freeze the caviar without tomato or avocado for up to 2 months.
Can I make this ahead of time?
Yes, you can. If you are planning on making the night before, it's best to keep the tomatoes out of the salad until a couple of hours before serving. You can keep the dressing separate also until a couple of hours before serving.
How to Make
Gather all the ingredients. Chop up the bell peppers, red onions, and cherry tomatoes, then rinse and drain the beans and corn.
Place the shoepeg corn, black-eyed peas, and the black beans in a large bowl.
Next, add the red, orange, and yellow bell peppers and the jalapeños.
End with the cherry tomatoes and red onion.
Stir all the beans and veggies together, so they are well combined.
Gather the ingredients for the dressing. Squeeze 2 or 3 limes, mince the garlic, and measure out the spices and the liquids.
To make the homemade dressing, start by pouring the olive oil and freshly squeezed lime juice into a bowl.
Add the apple cider vinegar next.
For some extra zing, add a little pickled jalapeno brine.
Add the spices: black pepper, salt, cumin, and a little sugar.
Finish the dressing ingredients with some minced garlic.
Whisk all the ingredients together.
Pour over the chopped vegetables and beans, then stir until everything is well coated in the dressing.
Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 or 2 hours, so the flavors can meld.
Just before serving, squeeze on some more lime juice. Taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
Add the chopped cilantro, stir, and serve with scoop style corn chips.
Cowboy caviar is an appetizer that gets rave reviews, it's easy to make, and doesn't require any cooking. You should definitely give this tasty recipe a try!
- Need a bean substitute? Use pinto beans, lentils, or hominy.
- Need a substitute for shoepeg corn? You can substitute sweet yellow corn (fresh, canned, or frozen).
- Need lower sodium? Use dried or no salt black eyed peas and black beans, and frozen or fresh corn instead of canned.
- Want other add ins? Try avocado (add just before serving) or olives.
- Like it mild? The fresh jalapeños don't add any heat, only extra crunch. Leave in the seeds and membranes for a spicy kick.
- In a hurry? You can skip the chilling time, but it does taste better when it has time to marinate because the flavors meld together.
- Making for a dip? Cut the vegetables small so they can fit easily on a chip, and make sure that all of the ingredients the same size.
- White Shoepeg Corn: this delicate sweet corn is perfect for this cowboy caviar.
- Canned Black Eyed Peas: can't find these at your grocery store? They're on Amazon.
- Citrus Reamer: it's really easy to squeeze the lime juice with this handy tool.
- Stainless Steel Whisks: these rust-resistant whisks blend smoothly and clean easily.
- Glass Prep Bowls: these pretty bowls are perfect for storing prepped ingredients.
These other delicious salads will be hit with family and friends!
The pleasure of a 5-star review would be greatly appreciated.Print
Crowd pleasing cowboy caviar is a healthy recipe that is easy to make ahead for a party. Marinate this simple dip with a homemade vinegar dressing that is best served cold. Black eyed peas, black beans, shoepeg corn, and fresh raw veggies drizzled with lime juice are a winning summer combination for kids and adults alike.
For the Salad
- 15 ounce can black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
- 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 11 ounce can white shoepeg corn, rinsed and drained
- 8.5 ounces grape tomatoes, finely chopped (240g)
- ½ rounded cup red onion, finely chopped (140g)
- ⅓ cup orange bell pepper, chopped (45g)
- ⅓ cup red bell pepper, chopped (45g)
- ⅓ cup yellow bell pepper, chopped (45g)
- ⅓ cup jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (45g)
- ½ cup cilantro, chopped (13g))
- 1 medium lime, freshly squeezed
For the Dressing
- ½ cup olive oil (120 ml)
- ¼ cup lime juice (from 3 medium limes; 60 ml)
- 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar (30 ml)
- 1 tablespoon pickled jalapeno brine (15 ml)
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
Making the Dressing
- Mince the garlic.
- Whisk together the oil, vinegar, jalapeno brine, freshly squeezed lime juice, sugar, and spices in a medium bowl.
Making the Salad
- Rinse and drain the canned black eyed peas, black beans, and corn. Place in a large mixing bowl.
- Rinse the bell peppers and jalapenos, remove the seeds and membrane, and finely chop. If you have sensitive skin, wear food-safe gloves when handling the jalapenos.
- Chop the red onion and tomatoes. Add the peppers, onion, and tomato to the bowl and stir well.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and stir well to combine the flavors. Adjust seasonings to taste. Some people like it with more vinegar, sugar, salt, or lime juice.
- Cover and chill 1 to 2 hours. (If chilling overnight, leave out tomatoes until closer to serving time.)
- Just before serving, add in the cilantro and squeeze more fresh lime juice. Stir. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
- Serve chilled with scoop-style tortilla chips, as a side salad with grilled meat, or in a lettuce wrap.
- The fresh jalapeños only extra crunch, but if the seeds are left you'll have a spicy kick.
- You can skip the chilling time, if you're in a hurry, but for the best flavor allowing time to marinate is the way to go.
- For the best texture and use as a dip, cut the vegetables small and the same size.
- Category: Appetizer
- Method: Chopping
- Cuisine: Tex Mex
Keywords: cowboy caviar, texas caviar
This recipe was originally published on May 28, 2018.