Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar: When you make something this healthy, it's best to balance it out by eating it with chips.

During our Tastes Like Freedom party, we grilled pizzas, potato and paneer skewers and eggplant for baba ganoush. But I knew I’d need a few things I could whip together beforehand and toss on the table. I remembered I hadn’t made one of my favorite dishes this summer — Texas Caviar. I realize this reveals just how pretentious I can get, but I tried several times to think of a better name for the dish. I settled on Salsa Fresca for the menu for the party … but at least one friend was horrified, thinking I’d taken the Tequila Fresca idea a bit too far and turned it into food. Hadn’t thought of that.

The appeal of the dish is that it’s so easy. You open cans. You put the contents together. You pour on some dressing. You chill it. You immediately remove it from the fridge and eat an inappropriate amount to make sure the flavors are right. You chill it again. You serve it. You continue to eat an inappropriate amount, this time in front of your guests.

I’ve tried to fancy up the flavors quite a bit … and am convinced that the real secret is Seven Seas Italian dressing. Fancy yours up as you like, but the dressing will do the trick.

There are many ways to do this. Here’s how I made mine:

Texas Caviar (aka Salsa Fresca, aka Cowboy Caviar)

  • 2 cans black beans
  • 2 cans black-eyed peas
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can white corn
  • 1 can hominy
  • 1 bunch of fresh cilantro*
  • 3 bell peppers (red, orange and yellow)*
  • 1 bottle of Seven Seas Italian Dressing
  • 2 avocados*
  • Fritos Scoops (yes, Fritos Scoops)

Open cans. Pour all contents into a colander. Rinse. Drain.

Eat a Frito. It’s OK. Everything else here is so healthy. Oh. Yeah. That was good. You haven’t had Fritos in a while. You try not to keep junk food around the house, but … these are for making this fancy dish. How long do we let this drain? Eat another Frito. Hmmm. I thought I didn’t like Fritos. But. Yeah, eat another one. Hmmm. Do I like Fritos? I think I like Fritos. Eat four more.

Are the vegetables drained? No, wait. See — did you see? Something just dripped. It’s not ready. Let’s eat more Fritos.

OK. Chop of the peppers into very small pieces. If you’re not sure if you’ve done it right, consult a Frito Scoop. Did your pepper pieces scoop nicely into your Frito Scoop? Good. You did it right.*

Remove the cilantro leaves from the stems. Chop them up. Lots.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl.

Pour about 3/4 of the bottle of dressing into the bowl.

Chill overnight. Before serving, dice avocados, then mix into the bowl.*

*These are all the “optional” steps. I reckon if you want to get real Texan with it, you ain’t need nothing ain’t come from cans. Is that how people from Texas talk? I don’t know. I’m not a doctor. Anyhow, I’ve learned through careful experimentation (read: I eat a lot of this stuff) that the peppers are nice but not crucial, chilling overnight helps but is not critical and that the salad dressing will likely help the avocados from turning brown.


15 thoughts on “Texas Caviar

  1. This looks like a nice substitute for guacamole or salsa. You get so much of that in the summer, it’s nice to see a different take on chips and dip.

  2. 3 Things…

    1. I’m going to call it Cavan’s Caviar.
    2. So glad you made a tequila fresca and now I want one. Or three.
    3. I can’t hear the word ‘hominy’ and not think of Always by Erasure. Why you might ask? Because for most of my childhood, I thought the lyrics were, “Hominy, hominy, oh love”. I thought the dude liked just really liked hominy. True story.

    • That was incredible. I think you’re right. It’s a song about hominy. Nothing else makes sense. I mean, have you eaten hominy?

      “Cavan’s Caviar” is nice. I prefer “Cowboy Caviar” to “Texas Caviar” for the alliteration, but was worried naming the dish after myself might have strange implications. Like maybe I produced fish eggs and put them in a dish. (I do neither.)

      Hominy, hominy, oh love.

  3. Just a friendly note from someone born in Texas. Your version sounds good but not typical. And speaking of typical…neither is the talk. I will be giving your version a try.

    • Hi, Karen! What’s the true version? Tell us! That’s another reason for me calling this something else — Cowboy Caviar or some sort of salsa.

      Thanks for not being too harsh on a Midwesterner getting a Texas dish wrong. It is delicious. I am curious how you make it!

      • Hi Regan, Don’t get me wrong…I think your dish sounds delicious and probably most people will like it better than the original. When it was created in the 1940’s, it was just blackeyed peas without black beans, corn, hominy, or avocado. Your spot on with everything else. It was marinated over night to “pickle” the blackeyed peas and then drained of most of the liquid.

        I believe recipes are suggestions. I think food would be boring without experimentation and I like your recipe.

  4. Amazing! This is our favorite recipe from Cavan’s Kitchen yet! And we LOVE any excuse to scoop eat anything with chips. So thank you Cavan. You’ve improved our lives, yet again, with your outstanding culinary talents and your outstanding instructive videos! I’ll be picking up the necessary ingredients tomorrow! Many thanks! Also loved the Tequila Fresca break! Brilliant! Can’t forget that! I’ll be linking this immediately!

  5. I love that you blogged this recipe! The first time I made this was when Cory and I had just gotten engaged, and he told me it was the best thing he’d ever eaten. Win. I use frozen corn because I dislike canned, pintos instead of black-eyed peas and make a vinaigrette with olive oil, lime juice, cumin, cayenne powder, garlic and a little honey. I love it because it’s always a crowd-pleaser! And you get to eat Fritos, of course.

  6. Hello! Just discovered your recipes and videos – love them!! I am making this for Sunday football and I cannot find Seven Seas Italian Dressing anywhere! What would be the best substitute? Any ol’ Italian dressing or something else? Should it be the creamy kind? Thanks for any help!

    • Thanks for the kind words, Teresa! I appreciate it!

      Seven Seas Italian Dressing has just become part of the lore around when I make the dish and now I can’t give it up. Look for a creamy Italian dressing and you should be set. Insist on Fritos Scoops, though. 🙂

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