If you are in Texas you might be lucky enough to try a regional treat called “Cowboy Caviar”. Surprisingly enough, it doesn’t contain any caviar at all. It’s actually a black-eyed bean salad that is marinated in Italian dressing. Athens, Texas is, after all, the black-eyed pea capital of the world. It can be eaten with a spoon or even better yet do what the locals do and scoop it up with a tortilla chip. Texans like their “caviar” year round and serve it at barbecues and other informal gatherings.
Historically speaking, black-eyed peas were frequently eaten on New Year’s Eve in Texas and in other southern states. Some people, owing to a curious mix of tradition and superstition, still believe that the consumption of black-eyed peas consumed on the 31st of December will bring luck and prosperity throughout the coming year.
Interesting enough, however; “Cowboy Caviar” wasn’t created by a Texan but rather by a Yankee. Helen Corbitt, who was the head chef at Nieman Marcus at the time, was tasked to create an all-Texan menu that would include black-eyed peas. She had a personal disdain for the legume so this wasn’t an easy task and since she was unable to find an existing recipe that met her high standards she created her own.
The original recipe consisted of black-eyed peas and onions which are then marinated in a vinaigrette dressing. Since then, “Cowboy Caviar” has evolved into lots of different variations many of which also include black beans. This dip makes the perfect side dish, appetizer, or snack and is a great way to incorporate more vegetables into your diet!
3/4 cup frozen sweet corn, thawed
2 green onions, chopped or 1/2 cup of chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped bell pepper (any color will do)
1 chopped jalapeño (jarred or fresh)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1 ripe avocado cubed
1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained well
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained well
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar or honey
1/2 lime, juiced
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1.)Whisk all the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl until combined.
2.)Mix the salad ingredients together in a large bowl
3.)Pour dressing into the salad bowl and toss. Refrigerate an hour before serving to allow the flavours to blend.
So the next time that you are looking for something different to serve your guests consider preparing a bowl of “Cowboy Caviar” and be sure to tell them all about this delicious, healthy dish’s interesting history.
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