Like with any dip, salsa or spread, cowboy caviar has several adapted versions. The recipe has been changed slightly over the years to suit peoples’ tastes and even to conform to the fresh produce available in certain regions. But the main component that remains steady in cowboy caviar is black eyed peas.
I read a story that cowboy caviar was developed by Chef Helen Corbitt, who was asked to create a dish using black eyed peas. The problem? She hated black eyed peas. She settled on pickling them and creating a scoopable appetizer type dish, similar to a bean salad, but great for digging in with chips.
Is that story true? Probably. But I don’t know for sure. What I do know is that cowboy caviar has become a popular appetizer for parties, game day, and especially New Year’s Eve celebrations. After all, many people believe that eating black eyed peas will bring you good fortune in the new year.
For me, cowboy caviar is just a nice change of pace from salsa and creamy dips, plus it’s colorful and looks great sitting on your appetizer table! I’ve thrown chunks of avocado into mine.. some people do and some people don’t! I think it marries beautifully with the tomatoes and looks great. Plus I love avocado.
Get a big bowl and use a whisk to combine the garlic, vinegar, oil, hot sauce and pepper. Add in the chopped avocado and give it a few turns with a rubber spatula or spoon to coat.
Chopping is minimal for this recipe, but you will need to cut up some tomato, the avocado and your green onions.
Mix everything together into a big colorful combo and cover it. Now let it chill in the refrigerator for at least a couple hours (more is better) before turning it out into a pretty serving bowl for guests.
Need more dips?
I have an entire section full of dips and spreads, but I’ve also hand picked some of my favorites for you below.
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons garlic wine vinegar (red or white wine vinegar will work as well)
- 1½ teaspoons canola oil
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- ⅛ freshly ground black pepper
- 1 large avocado, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 2 large Roma tomatoes, chopped
- 1 15-ounce can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
- 1 14-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
- 1 bunch (about ⅔ cup) green onions, sliced
- ⅓ cup chopped fresh cilantro
- In a large bowl, whisk together the garlic, vinegar, oil, hot sauce and pepper.
- Add avocado and turn to coat. Add remaining ingredients and stir to mix well.
- Chill, covered, for 2 hours to allow flavors to meld. Serve with tortilla chips or nachos.