Cowboy Caviar a.k.a Texas Caviar – healthy, wonderfully fresh and simple to make dip that also doubles up as a salad. A great make-ahead dish for potlucks, picnic or summer parties. Easy, healthy and flavorful!
There’s no better way to get yourself eating healthy foods than taking advantage of all of the summer produce. I’ve been so proud of myself lately for making sure that I fill my fridge with 80% wholesome goodness. What I mean by that is most of what I have in my fridge are fresh, unprocessed foods – all from mother nature!
Today’s recipe is one of our favorites, especially this time of the year. What makes me so obsessed with this dish is that it makes a great salad or side dish to your summer barbecues and at the same time makes a healthy dip/salsa for appetizer.
What is Cowboy Caviar (a.k.a Texas Caviar)?
Cowboy Caviar, also known as Texas Caviar, is a popular side dish or appetizer that originated in Texas, U.S.A in 1940. It was said that the recipe creator Helen Corbitt served this dish on New Year’s Eve at the Houston Country Club. This simple and healthy salad/dip is made with black-eyed peas served on New Year’s Eve to bring good luck, in a vinaigrette style dressing and is often served with tortilla chips or as a salad. It then became a must-have at any Texas barbecues. A healthy way to eat more beans and other vegetables.
What Goes in a Cowboy Caviar?
Aside black-eyed peas and black beans, Cowboy Caviar is also packed with other fresh veggies. Like any bean salad, this salad/dip also has sweet corn kernels in it, onion, red and green bell pepper (for more color variation), roma tomatoes, seeded jalapeno pepper, cilantro and diced avocado.
Beans. When it comes to salads with black-eyed peas and beans, I’d usually go for the canned ones especially when I’m pressed for time. But as we all know, nothing beats the fresh ones. If using dried beans, cook them according to package instructions. Most of the time, I have frozen cooked beans stashed in my freezer so I can make anything beans when my craving strikes.
Sweet Corn. Don’t get it all mixed up. Canned sweet corn is different from a can of Creamed Corn. If you can get your hands on fresh corns off the cob, then by all means use it. As for frozen corn, that works great as well. Just thaw them first until room temperature before tossing them in the salad. Here’s a good read for you about frozen vegetables and why it is unnecessary to cook them before you toss them in your salad.
Salad Dressing. I couldn’t find the exact words to describe the dressing but I can guarantee you that it’s absolutely spot on. It has that vibrant, sweet, tangy with some heat and oomph in every bite. This recipe calls for red wine vinegar which basically comes from fermented red wine. If you don’t have one, you may simply substitute it with balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar or simple with lemon or lime juice.
Tip: I strongly suggest that you add a little portion of these substitutes first and work up as you go along. This will help you in balancing out the flavors. If the taste seems a bit off for you, then I suggest you go with what the recipe calls for.
Is Cowboy Caviar Vegan?
Originally, Cowboy Caviar is a great summer vegan dish. But this one here uses honey so that takes it off the vegan list. Simply replace honey with sugar to make it a vegan bowl.
Can You Make Cowboy Caviar Ahead of Time?
To cut back on preparation time, you can make this salad/dip in advance, although, I don’t recommend that you add all the veggies in as some of them will get mushy being soaked in a dressing. What you could do though is prepare and mix all the veggies (except for avocado) in a bowl, store in a tightly covered container in the fridge and just add the dressing and avocados when ready to serve.
If making it just a day in advance or less than that, you *MAY* dress the veggie mix ahead of time, place in the fridge and just add the avocado right before serving. It would store well in the fridge for up 2 days
Tip: Don’t forget to toss/stir the mixture before serving.
Can You Freeze Cowboy Caviar?
Although the beans will hold up just fine when stored in the freezer, the tomatoes and avocado will not fair well. I would only recommend that you store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.
Cowboy Caviar Variations
Once you try this recipe, you’ll get hooked with this. Take it from me. 😉 And what’s even more amazing is that you can toss in some of your favorites for a little variety of this summer healthy dish.
- Hate cilantro? Replace it with sliced green onions instead.
- Instead of black beans, you can also switch up to pinto beans and black-eyed peas combo. Chickpeas works fine, too. It’s wonderful!
- Want some protein in it? No problem! To make it a complete main meal instead, toss in a cup of diced cooked chicken, bacon bits or small shrimp.
- For a touch of cheesy goodness, add in crumbled feta or goat cheese upon serving.
More Easy Bean Salads/Dips To Enjoy
Serve this dish as an accompaniment to tortilla chips when entertaining or as a side dish to any grilled meat. For a complete meal on its own, add some diced chicken, bacon bits and small shrimps and you’re good to go.
Cowboy Caviar a.k.a Texas Caviar
- 1 15 oz can black eye peas , rinsed and drained
- 1 15 oz can black beans , rinse and drained
- 1 can sweet corn , rinsed and drained
- 1 cup (115 g) red onion , diced
- ½ cup (93 g) green bell pepper , diced
- ½ cup (93 g) red bell pepper, diced , diced
- 1 cup (149 g) fresh roma tomato , diced
- 1 jalapeno pepper , seeded and diced
- ¼ cup (40 g) minced cilantro
- 1 ripe avocado , sliced
- 2 tablespoons (28 ml) olive oil
- 2 teaspoons (10 g) minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) red wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon (18 g) honey
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) freshly squeezed lime juice
- ½ teaspoon (1.5 g) cumin
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) salt
- ½ teaspoon (1 g) freshly ground black pepper
- In a large bowl combine all salad ingredients: black eyed peas, black beans, sweet corn, onions, bell peppers, tomato, jalapeno and cilantro.
- In a small mixing bowl, whisk together olive oil, minced garlic, red wine vinegar, honey, lime juice, cumin, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the bean mixture and thoroughly mix to coat.
- Cover salad with a plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about an hour. When ready to serve, add in the avocado.
- Serve with tortilla chips, veggie sticks, on the side of your favorite grilled meats and fish.
Tips & Notes:
- It is more preferable to add the dressing and the avocado when ready to serve.
- If you don’t like heat please leave out the jalapeno. Kids might not like it either.
- You may replace honey with sugar to make it a vegan bowl.
- Instead of black beans, you can also switch up to pinto beans and black-eyed peas combo. Chickpeas works fine, too
- To make it a complete main meal instead, toss in a cup of diced cooked chicken, bacon bits or small shrimps.
- You may add in crumbled feta or goat cheese, if desired, upon serving.
- Please keep in mind that nutritional information is a rough estimate and can vary greatly based on products used.