Friday, July 16, 2010
From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Cowboy Caviar is a simple dish with an interesting history. You know, I'm sure, that black-eyed peas are served throughout the Southern United States on New Year's Day. Some, in a curious mix of tradition and superstition, believe that consumption of black-eyed peas on that day will bring luck and prosperity in the coming year. Cowboy, or Texas, caviar is an offshoot of that tradition. The dish was developed by Helen Corbitt, a Yankee, who did not like black-eyed peas. She was the head chef at Nieman Marcus and was asked to create an all-Texas menu that would include black-eyed peas. Athens, Texas is, after all, the black-eyed pea capital of the world. Hard pressed to find an existing recipe that met her high standards, she decided to pickle them, and created a dish that could be eaten with a fork or scooped up to the mouth on a tortilla chip. Nowadays, Texans like their "caviar" year round and serve it at barbecues and other informal gatherings. While the name remains a mystery, cowboy caviar is a a nice change of pace from standard bean salads that are usually served on those occasions. It's easy to make and, like all pickled salads, can be made well ahead of serving. The original recipe consists of black-eyed peas and onions that are marinated in a vinaigrette. That sounded a bit stark to me,so I decided to use a recipe I found in the Saveur magazine. It is only slightly more complicated and produces a lovely dish that uses less oil than the original. I like to serve this as a salad option for picnics and barbecues. Culinary reputations are not built on this kind of dish, but it will do your good name no harm. Here's the recipe.
Cowboy Caviar...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite, inspired by Saveur magazine
2 ( 15-oz.) cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1 serrano or jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and finely chopped
1/4 chopped red onion
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1) Combine beans, cilantro, olive oil, vinegar, garlic, chiles, bell pepper and onion in a large bowl. Toss well.
2) Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Yield: 6 servings.
You might also enjoy these recipes:
Asparagus and White Bean Salad - One Perfect Bite
Mexican Black Bean Salad - One Perfect Bite
Kidney Bean Salad - Lisa's Kitchen
Spring Fava Bean and Fennel Salad - Simply Recipes
Mediterranean White Bean Salad - Budget Bytes
Diner's Journal: Bean Salad - New York Times