Last week we were treated to a special bag of fresh cowpeas (or blackeyed peas, if you prefer) from Wolf Creek Farm in nearby Tioga Texas. I rarely get my hands on such a treat this far from New Years, so they sat in my fridge for a few days until they decided what they wanted to be when they grew up. Finally I decided that this lovely early Autumn weather called for chips and salsa on the back porch and I threw together a batch of Texas Caviar.
Legend has it that Helen Corbitt invented this cold salad when she was the head chef for Neiman-Marcus in 1940. Her original recipe calls for pickling the peas for a week in salad dressing, but I prefer this dressed up version since it calls for the addition of a few more CSA veggies.
You can serve Texas Caviar as a salsa with chips or even as a side salad for lighter summer fare. I’ve also added it to an omelet with feta or goat cheese and tossed it in a breakfast burrito. The possibilities are endless, and if legend holds, each batch is a double helping of good luck!
The flavor improves GREATLY after marinating overnight, so I recommend making a batch the night before you plan to serve it.
Texas Caviar with Fresh Cowpeas
2 cups fresh cowpeas
6 green onions, white parts discarded, thinly sliced
1 or 2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
1 large or 2 small bell peppers, red or yellow, seeded and diced
1/3 cups cilantro, roughly-chopped
2 gloves garlic, minced
zest of one lime
2 TBS olive oil
2 TBS lime juice
1 tsp ground cumin
salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
- Put fresh cowpeas in a pan with just enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until cooked to desired texture (roughly 20-30 minutes). Strain and set aside to cook. If using immediately, soak in cold water to cool. This step can be done the night before and the cooked peas stored in a sealed container in the fridge.
- Add cooled peas, green onions, jalapenos, tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro in a mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together garlic, lime zest, olive oil, lime juice, and cumin. Add dressing to the veggies and mix gently to combine. Salt and pepper to taste.
- Store overnight before serving for best results!