Texas Caviar

Tailgate season is coming to a close, but we still have bowl games coming up, as well as the NFL playoffs. So humor me as I sneak this perfect tailgate dip into the lineup. Texas caviar, what a name! Credited with its invention is the legendary Austin-based Neiman-Marcus chef Helen Corbitt, who popularized it in the 1940s. Texas caviar is a cold black-eyed pea salad, with chiles, onions, and bell peppers that doubles as a dip for tortilla chips. This particular version of the recipe comes from my friend Lisa Fain, food blogger extraordinaire, and author of the newly released Homesick Texan Cookbook. Now most of the food we make around here gets shared among many—parents, boyfriend, friends, brothers, neighbors. But this one? I did not share. Mine. All. Mine. It’s that good.

Texas caviar can be served either as a little side salad, perhaps on some butter lettuce if you like, or it can be used as a dip, like salsa, for tortilla chips. You will find that if you make it as a dip, well, it takes a steady hand to keep the beans from falling of the chips. But, it’s well worth it. Enjoy!

Texas Caviar Recipe

  • Prep time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4-6.

Ingredients

  • 4 cups of cooked black-eyed peas (2 15-ounce cans, rinsed and drained)
  • 8 green onions, just the green parts thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 jalapeño chile peppers, stems and seeds removed (wear gloves! do not touch your eyes after handling them!), finely chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced, or 1/2 cup of canned diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and black pepper, to taste

Method

1 In a medium bowl, stir together the black-eyed peas, green onion greens, cilantro, chopped jalapeño, tomatoes, bell pepper, and garlic.

2 In a separate bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, and cumin. Pour over the the black-eyed pea mixture. Stir to coat. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Best chilled for several hours. Serve cold as a side salad or with tortilla chips.

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Recipe by Lisa Fain, the Homesick Texan. Republished with permission.

Links:

Zannie's Black Eyed Pea Dip - from The Pioneer Woman

21 Comments

  1. Sprigs of Rosemary

    I’m glad to know the history of this! I’ve only made it with black beans and was told it was “Cowboy Caviar.” Whatever it’s called — great flavors and great tailgating! (Gotta try black-eyed peas, though.)

  2. Glenda

    Throw some small chunks of avocado in this and it’s over the top. Delicious, as is, however!!!

  3. James King

    Maybe if you mash or purée some of the beans (or some extra beans) then the dip would hold itself together better? Maybe make a small paste using 1 cup of beans and a drizzle of olive oil? I know it alters the caviar’s texture, but perhaps it would be a compromise if you’re going for a dip.

  4. Kevin Holt

    My brothers fiancee makes a similar dip. The main difference is they make it Sante Fe style by adding corn. They also add orange, red, and green bell pepper along with the yellow, to give it a lot of color.

  5. Kathy

    I make this as a burrito filling. Add some sour cream and a bit of cheese and WOW.

  6. Lee

    As a native Texan, I grew up on this lovely stuff, and used it in several restaurants I cooked in as everything from a topping for fish to a base for grilled meats to, as suggested, a simple dip for homemade tortilla chips. I usually keep a batch in the fridge just to snack on!

  7. Jenni

    I LOVE Texas Caviar! I could eat a batch all to myself. I make a different version, which I am sure there are many. I use black-eyed peas, avocado, green onions, Roma tomatoes, shoe peg corn, jalapenos, cilantro, red wine vinegar, olive oil and LOTS of cumin!

  8. Kylie

    I LOVE Texas Caviar. It’s one of the best recipes I took away from my years in Dallas! Some people toss it with Italian vinagrette, which is probably not so authentic but quite delicious. I need to make some now, thanks!

  9. Nancy Long

    This sounds good, but my hubby loves the one I got from my DIL several years ago

    Texas Caviar
    (from Anne)
    1 can White Shoe peg Corn,
    1 can Black Beans,
    1 can Black-Eyed Peas,
    1 jar chopped Pimentos,
    1 can/jar chopped Jalepeños(1/2 cup?–I use about 1/2 to 2/3 of the thin jar which Giant is no longer selling so I can’t find it anywhere),
    1 med. Red Onion chopped,
    1 cup chopped Celery.

    1 cup Olive Oil,
    1/2 cup Vinegar,
    1 cup Sugar

    Heat marinade until sugar is dissolved and then mix well with vegetables. Marinade for 24 hours

    Sounds great, thanks! ~Elise

  10. Becky

    I can eat a whole bowl of texas caviar and call it supper. My favorite version has little chunks of jicama as well as a little bit of orange juice and zest.

  11. Carrie

    I know it’s a dip but I always serve and eat it like a salad. Soooooooo good!

  12. Jenine Ouillette

    Super recipe. I traditionally make Hopping John with collards, hog jowl and rice from scratch – soak beans, braise collrds etc (takes hours) New Years eve for luck. Your recipe may just start a new tradition using the salad, dice hog jowl and fry till crisp, make rice and greens pilaf and sprinkle servings with crispy hog jows. You can use thick sliced bacon but the jowls are traditional.

  13. Sandy

    My daughter, who hates black eyed peas, made this yesterday and her entire family loved it! Little does she know that she is getting Lisa’s cookbook for Christmas! My go-to New Year’s recipe is from Lisa’s blog, Homesick Texan. I’m pretty sure it’s called Good Fortune Soup and it absolute is the best black eyed pea recipe I’ve ever found. and no, I am neither related to Lisa nor am I being compensated….just love her recipes…and your website!

  14. Gary In Massena

    OMG – Good!

    I made a batch last night for a Christmas party later today. Made the mistake of sampling it. Almost needed to go out and buy ingredients for a second batch. My will power is very weak.

  15. Jamie

    I made this yesterday for a neighborhood holiday party. Delicious as a dip when served with tortilla chips! I will definitely make this again.

  16. Amy

    Made this this weekend for a get together. It was a hit! Some of the beans got away from us and enjoyed rolling off the tortilla chips but everyone loved the bright, fresh flavor.

  17. Food Lover

    I would suggest adding a couple of tablespoons of tamarind paste dissolved in a bit of water.

  18. Novelismo

    Canned black eyed peas are great, but … really? It’s better to start from scratch and stew up your own. You could use the leftovers from Black Eyed Peas and Sweet Stewed Tomatoes — yet another old Southern favorite. Is the South now the largest “region” of the United States both in square miles and population? And counting the West, where the influence of expatriate Southerners after the war was a paramount influence on the spirit of the region, waal ….

  19. Carolyn

    This is one of those classic recipes that I had never heard of until a couple of years ago. How is that possible? It is an amazing New World contribution to global cuisine, at the very least. The version I have settled on adds a bit of sugar, utilizes diced red onion instead of green onion, and is lighter on the jalapenos, but all in all I’m convinced that any Texas Caviar recipe would be quickly dispatched at my house. This will be my main contribution for the family New Year’s celebration this year. Long live snackies!

  20. JT

    Happy New Year, Elise.

    My friends had a NY’s Eve dinner party and I was asked to bring a spicy appetizer. Although I’m not a cilantro fan – all of my friends coming to the dinner party love it. Having said that – I made your Texas caviar (including the avocado) but had a hard time telling whether the dish was going to be a winner or not due to the way I feel about cilantro.

    The verdict: Winner! I was surprised and pleased that people scoffed this dip down quickly – and that it was the most popular appetizer there…and there were many choices. A good one; thank you.

  21. Pam

    I made it as written and it was a big hit. Thanks for the recipe.

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