Unlike its fishy namesake, Texas Caviar has nothing whatsoever to do with roe. Native Texans know that the peculiarly named dish is actually a salad of beans, black-eyed peas, corn and other tasty ingredients. It can be served as an appetizer, snack or dip for tortilla chips.
This tasty recipe was created in the 1940s by Helen Corbitt, a New Yorker who later became the food service director for the Zodiac Room at Neiman Marcus in Dallas. Her creation was first presented on New Year's Eve at the Houston Country Club and again at the Driskill Hotel in Austin, where it was named Texas Caviar as a tongue-in-cheek comparison to the pop of the expensive fish egg appetizer. An alternative name is Cowboy Caviar, the moniker by which it is sold nationwide at Costco stores.
This salad/salsa hybrid goes with just about everything including pork, steaks, chicken or fish, and because it can be made ahead, it's great for picnics, potlucks or barbecues and can be served year-round. Texas caviar makes a change from the standard three-bean salad, and it's rich in fiber and protein too. Some people like to throw in grated cabbage to make it into a kind of coleslaw.
Our Texas Caviar Recipe
In the following recipe, you can swap the corn kernels for extra black-eyed peas if you want, or even throw in some black, white or kidney beans. Some people like to add avocado, celery or sun-dried tomatoes to their Texas Caviar, so go ahead and use whichever ingredients you want. Although some people use dried beans, it's much simpler and less time-consuming to use the canned kind and simply drain and rinse them. This recipe makes six servings but you can double or triple it easily enough.
- 15-ounce can black-eyed peas
- 15-ounce can corn kernels
- 1/4 seeded, finely chopped red bell pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 1 seeded, minced jalapeño
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 chopped red onion
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
Drain and rinse the black-eyed peas and corn kernels, then put them in a bowl with the bell pepper, cilantro, garlic, jalapeño, oil, onion and vinegar. Stir well then refrigerate overnight or for at least 3 hours. Season with salt and black pepper, then serve.