Y’all know I’m from Oklahoma, right? Ali texted me for bean salsa input the other day and I mentioned that she wasn’t far off from cowboy caviar, a bean salad popular in the South. You can serve it as a side salad or as salsa. Either way, people go crazy for it at potlucks.
Ali wasn’t familiar with cowboy caviar (also called Texas caviar), so I worried that maybe you all had been deprived of this cheekily titled delight, too. It’s made with black-eyed peas and black beans, chopped tomatoes, corn, bell pepper, onion and cilantro tossed in a tangy Italian dressing.
I have one issue with most cowboy caviars, which is that they’re often swimming in store-bought Italian salad dressing. As such, they can be way too oily and contain some entirely unnecessary preservatives. I whisked together a simple, homemade Italian dressing that does the trick. This recipe yields quite a lot of dip, but I don’t think you’ll have any trouble polishing it off.
I had so much fun creating a healthier version of this classic potluck menu item that I thought it would be fun to make a summer series out of it. On the menu: seven-layer dip, pasta salad, more salsas… What else would you all like to see?! Let me know in the comments!
- 2 (14-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained, or 3 cups cooked black-eyed peas
- 1 (14-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained, or 1½ cups cooked black beans
- 1½ cups fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears of corn), or 1 (14-ounce) can corn, drained
- 1½ cups chopped tomatoes (I used about 4 Roma tomatoes, about ¾ pound)
- 1 medium red, orange or yellow bell pepper
- ¾ cup chopped red onion (about ½ small red onion)
- ½ cup chopped cilantro, leaves and stems
- 1 to 2 jalapeños, ribs removed, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 avocado (optional)
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar or lime juice
- 2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced
- 1 to 1½ teaspoons salt, to taste
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- In a large serving bowl, combine the drained black-eyed peas, black beans, corn, chopped tomatoes, bell pepper, onion, cilantro and jalapeño. If you'll be including avocado, wait to dice it until you're ready to serve the dip, so it doesn't turn brown in the meantime.
- In a cup, whisk together the dressing ingredients until emulsified. Drizzle the dressing over the serving bowl and toss until well mixed. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper. For best flavor, let the mixture marinate for at least 20 minutes before serving. If you're adding avocado, mix it in just before serving.
Serving suggestions: Don't forget the chips! I also like to turn this dip into a green salad by serving it on lettuce with a squeeze of lime, some crumbled feta and a sprinkle of crushed corn chips or toasted pepitas.
Storage suggestions: This dip keeps well in the refrigerator, covered, for around three days.
If you love this recipe: Check out my other salsa recipes and my healthy barbecue salads and sides roundup!