When it comes to my summertime meals, I have a few requirements – they have to be light and and refreshing and they must be easy to prepare.  Sometimes that can be a tall order, however, I knew I hit the jackpot when I came across this recipe for Cowboy Caviar.

Not only is cowboy caviar light, easy to prepare, and bursting with flavor, it’s also incredibly versatile.  And if you’re not familiar with cowboy caviar, rest assured it’s definitely not fish eggs!

Cowboy caviar, also known as Texas caviar, is a refreshing dish that can be served as a healthy salad but it can also be a tasty salsa or a crunchy dip.  It comes together in minutes with ingredients you likely have in your fridge and pantry.

Although cowboy caviar seems to be trending big time right now, this southern inspired dish was actually created almost 80 years ago.  Legend has it, Helen Corbitt, a popular chef and cookbook author, first introduced cowboy caviar around 1950 at a New Year’s Eve party in Houston, Texas.

Back then Helen’s recipe was pretty simple: black-eyed peas with onions and garlic pickled in oil and vinegar and served cold.  The dish was a big hit at the party and the recipe soon began to spread throughout the Lone Star State and beyond.

Over the years Helen’s classic recipe has been expanded upon and these days a typical cowboy caviar recipe will have black beans, as well as black-eyed peas, along with a colorful array of fresh veggies.  All of the vegetables are diced into bite sized pieces and then marinated in a zesty vinaigrette dressing.  Honestly, the dressing is what makes this dish so good.

Lately, I’ve been trying some of the different variations of this classic dish but I keep coming back to the recipe I’m sharing with you today.  It’s from The Well Plated Cookbook by Erin Clarke and it is definitely the one I like the best.

Let’s face it – warm weather calls for no-fuss meals that are full of flavor and loaded with fresh seasonal ingredients.  So whether you’re craving a crunchy salad or you want a zesty dip for your chips, I think it’s high time you hop on the cowboy caviar bandwagon and give this recipe a try.  I know you’re going to love it!


Yields 8 servings


For the cowboy caviar:

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups cooked black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1 cup corn kernels
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
juice of 1 lime
2 large avocados, pitted and diced
1/4 cup cilantro

For the dressing:

2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

1.  In a large bowl, stir together the black beans, black-eyed peas, tomatoes, corn, bell pepper, onion, jalapeno and lime juice.

2.  In a small bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients for the dressing.  Pour the dressing over the bean mixture.  Fold in the avocado and cilantro and season to taste.

3.  If time allows, refrigerate for one hour to allow the flavors to marry.  Serve with tortilla chips.