December 28, 2007

Texas caviar: black-eyed pea salsa

I like traditions - especially if they're connected to good luck. That's why I used to make this black-eyed pea salad nearly every New Year's. It's called Texas Caviar and in southern lore, eating it on New Year's Day is supposed to bring you good luck. About ten years ago we started going to Florida every year from Christmas Eve through New Year's Day to visit my late father, and my recipe got filed away into my piles of recipes that I was going to "organize." It hasn't been seen since — until now. I searched it out hoping that it would qualify as "easy" and I could make it and post it, since New Year's is right around the corner. I think if you use canned beans instead of cooking them yourself, it is perfect. The only qualifier here is that the mixture is supposed to marinate in the refrigerator for at least two or three days, so you have to plan ahead. Sometimes planning ahead is the clincher for me and enough to stop me from making something, but I really like this dish - and it never hurts to have a little luck. And the truth is that although marinating for a few days is ideal, eating this a few hours after you make is pretty good too. This recipe is meant to be scooped up with sturdy chips but you could also just serve it on a plate like any bean salad. We had some for dinner with kasha and steamed kale.

Texas Caviar
  • 2 cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 4 scallions, finely sliced
  • 3 jalapenos, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, minced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil,
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Fresh ground peppercorns

  1. Rinse and drain the beans and place in a bowl with the scallions, cilantro and peppers. 
  2. Put the oil, vinegar, lime juice and salt in a one cup glass measuring cup and mix together. 
  3. Add the liquid to the beans mixture and combine. 
  4. Place in a shallow glass (or other non-reactive) dish. Cover and place in the refrigerator for a few hours or a few days. Mix occasionally to distribute the marinade evenly. 
  5. Grind some peppercorns over the top just before serving.

notes: I thought the mix looked a little too green and beige so I went looking in the refrigerator for a few grape tomatoes to chop up. They were gone so I got a few slices of the tomatoes I dried last summer (and keep in a sealed freezer bag in the fridge). I chopped those up and added them for color and tang. I also used jalapenos from last summer's garden. I always freeze bags of whole, hot peppers from the garden to use in cooking during the rest of the year. This was the first time I tried to use them uncooked. Couldn't tell they weren't fresh.

Fresh squeezed lime juice makes a superior salad but I would understand if you kept a bottle of lime juice (like Santa Cruz organic) in your refrigerator for "emergencies." The beans will still taste great. Guess how I know.

I like to rinse and drain canned beans in a wire wok skimmer that I got in an Asian market years ago because I liked the way it looked. It's easier to clean than my fine mesh strainers and holds about one can of beans at a time.


  1. How pretty! I like your addition of dried tomato. Reminds me of Ful - a middle eastern dish that mixes cooked beans (fava) with fresh tomatoes, parsley and lemon juice, or some similar variation. When it's tomato season I make it with black beans. So delish! Now I want to try this bean salad for the new year.

  2. I made this for a potluck and didn't even get to taste it - it disappeared too fast!

  3. This is so colorful! And simple too. Thanks for sharing!

  4. That has to be some of the most beautiful Texas caviar that I've ever seen!


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