Cowboy Caviar ~ whether you call it Texas caviar, black bean salsa, black-eyed pea salad, or Southwestern bean dip, this all-American cross between a salsa and a salad is just plain GOOD! It’s a multi-tasker that’s always welcome at tailgates, barbecues and potlucks, and it has Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day, and 4th of July written all over it.
cowboy caviar is a healthy black bean salad that doubles as a dip, a salsa, and an all around people pleaser!
Sit me down in front of a bowl of this colorful cowboy caviar, throw in a pile of chips, and I won’t come up for air until I’ve polished it off ~ definitely my kind of food. And between the beans and all the veggies, this is substantial food, chunky enough to double as a side dish. But whether you call it a dip, salsa or salad, it’s a healthy dynamo, so the more you scoop up with your chips or pile on your plate, the better.
what you’ll need for a great cowboy caviar
This recipe is traditionally anchored by black beans and black-eyed peas. But there’s so much more!
- black beans ~ I used canned, but if you’re up for it, definitely soak and cook dried beans, they’re wonderful!
- black-eyed peas ~ when I couldn’t locate canned black-eyed peas at my store, I used dried. They don’t need to be soaked, and they cook up surprisingly quickly. I love the contrast between the two types of beans, it’s a really pretty effect in the caviar.
- fresh corn ~ don’t let the lack of fresh corn stop you from enjoying this amazing dish, thaw some frozen if necessary.
- red onion ~ adds the perfect kick; every salsa needs a bit of red onion.
- bell peppers ~ try to get some of every color.
- tomatoes ~ firm tomatoes like plum work best here. Cherry tomatoes will work, too.
- jalapeños ~ moderate the heat depending on how many you use, but don’t leave them out entirely!
- olives ~ the brine adds another layer of complexity to the flavor profile.
- fresh cilantro ~ I love it!
for the dressing
- olive oil
- fresh lime juice
- chipotle chili powder
- salt and pepper
a vegetable chopper comes in handy with this recipe
You want all the ingredients in this confetti-like salad to be evenly and finely diced. I love my Alligator Chopper. If you do a lot of recipes that require fine chopping, it’s a wonderful time saver. If you plan to use this cowboy caviar as a salad you can afford to go a little bigger with the size of the pieces and a knife will work just fine. But for a salsa, everything needs to be fine enough to fit nicely on a chip!
color is key to the charm (and health benefits!) of this rainbow bean dip
Bold bell peppers pop against the black and white beans…with bright yellow corn, vivid red tomatoes, black olives along with pimento stuffed greens, and purple onions all contributing to the rainbow effect. All those colors come from super healthy phytonutrients that help protect against heart disease and certain cancers. What a great reason to go in for another dip!
ingredient variations to use in your cowboy caviar:
- green onions
- garden peas
Reader Rave ~
“This is one of my favorite tailgate snacks to make!! The colors are perfection!” ~ Annie
I’ve got a thing for bean salads…
- Mediterranean Bean Salad
- Edamame Salad
- Middle Eastern Chickpea Salad (Balela)
- 7-Bean Salad
- Rainbow Bean Salad
- Charred Corn and Bean Salad
- Mason Jar Layered Bean Salad
- 15 ounce can of black beans, well rinsed and drained
- 15 ounce can of black-eyed peas, well rinsed and drained
- 1 ear of corn, kernels removed (the corn can be cooked or raw)
- 1/3 cup minced red onion
- 1/3 cup finely diced green bell pepper
- 1/3 cup finely diced yellow bell pepper
- 1/3 cup finely diced orange bell pepper
- 1/2 cup finely diced fresh tomatoes
- 1-2 jalapenos, to taste, minced
- 1/4 cup chopped green stuffed olives
- 1/4 cup chopped black or kalamata olives
- a large handful of fresh cilantro leaves, rough chopped
- 4 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- juice to 2 large limes
- 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- Put all the salad ingredients into a large bowl.
- Whisk the dressing ingredients together and taste to adjust it to your liking.
- Add the dressing to the salad and toss gently.
- The salad is best if made a couple of hours ahead of time to allow the flavors to develop and mingle. It keeps for a week in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- These amounts are approximate, you will just eyeball it. A rough guide is to include an equal amount of veggies to beans ~ and lots of cilantro 🙂
- The corn can be cooked or raw, but I think it has the best flavor when it’s grilled, and it gets nice char marks that way, too. You can set it right on the grill in or out of its husk, and turn frequently with tongs until it starts to steam or soften.
- My pretty blue bowl is made by one of tvfgi’s own American Artisans!!