When speaking about one of my favorite recipes I'm often asked "What is Texas Caviar?" If you're not a Native Texan or a Southerner you may likely think Texas Caviar has something to do with salty-cured roe (fish eggs) often served as an hors d’oeuvre.
A Dash Of Texas Lore With origins to the 1940s, Texas Caviar can translate into a lot of forms for many folks - part snack, appetizer, side dish, hearty dip, chunky salsa, or by today's terms a vegan salad. This go-to favorite was created by our state's very own culinary Queen - Helen Corbitt - a New Yorker who moved to Texas to teach catering and restaurant management at the University of Texas. Helen later held culinary positions at the Houston Country Club, Joske's Department Store, Austin's Driskill Hotel, then Neiman Marcus in Dallas where she was food service director for the Zodiac restaurant and tearoom for almost 20 years.
After Helen received a special request to pen a menu using only Texas products she created pickled black-eyed peas which debuted at the Houston Country Club on New Year's Eve. When served later at Austin's Driskill Hotel this Texas dish was officially coined "Texas Caviar" as a tongue-in-cheek comparison to the expensive fish egg hors d’oeuvre.
Helen's caviar creation has evolved a bit by its lovers over the years but at the core it's a Texan's culinary staple right up there with queso, big hair, and cowboy boots. I've given this recipe its own unique Texas twist with a little bit of sweet heat which you can dial up or down.
Enjoy Texas Caviar at tailgates, two-steps and everything in between!
Optional Ingredients: You can experiment to find your favorite flavor - try cubed cherry tomatoes or avocado, black beans, white hominy, honey and cayenne. You can use roasted corn for a warm, earthy flavor. If you're out of the vinaigrette ingredients (olive oil, red vinegar or lime juice) you can substitute Italian dressing.
What About Beans? You may notice I didn't include black beans in this recipe - that was by design as I felt the the true Lone Star featured ingredient of this dish is the black-eyed pea. You can totally add them in or try our Southwestern Summer Salad that features black beans and without black-eyed peas. Either way, you win!
When Serving: There are several ways you can enjoy Texas Caviar including "solely with a spoon," a sidekick to grilled salmon, on top of nachos or tacos - even incorporated into ground turkey or hamburger patties before they fire up on the grill. If dipping, restaurant style (triangle-shaped) tortilla chips or Fritos Scoops Corn Chips provide a crunchy conveyor of the dip. Fritos Fun Fact: Fritos were invented right here in Texas, just down the street in San Antonio. The recipe was originally purchased with just $100 by the folks we know today as Frito-Lay.
2 Cans (15 Ounces Each) | Black-eyed Peas, Drained 2-3 Cups | Yellow Corn, Drained (If Canned) 1 Cup | Red Onion, Minced 1 Small | Green Bell Pepper, Diced 1 Small | Red Bell Pepper, Diced 2 | Jalapeños, Seeded And Minced
5 | Garlic Cloves, Minced ¼ Cup | Fresh Cilantro, Minced 3-4 | Scallions, Thinly Sliced 4 Ounce Can | Fire Roasted Hatch Chiles (Fresh If You Have Them) 1 Teaspoon | Cumin 4 Tablespoons | Olive Oil 2 Tablespoons | Red Wine Vinegar Juice From 2 Limes
To Taste (~2 Tablespoons) | Kosher Salt To Taste | Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
What To Do:
1. Gather all ingredients and prepare your vegetables. Place everything into a large bowl and stir until combined well. Don't forget to season! 2. Cover to let things mingle and refrigerate for 1-2 hours or for up to 24 hours. 3. Serve/incorporate this into your favorite dish (serving tips above) and enjoy!
Serves: Enough for a party! I gifted 3 containers filled with the Texas gold to friends and had enough leftover for 2-3 snacking sessions!
Joe Paul Reider
Home Style Austin Founder
Keller Williams Realty
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