Cowboy Caviar Salad

Cowboy Caviar Salad

I just recently learned the history of Cowboy Caviar – along with the original recipe. The earliest recipes were basically pickled black-eyed peas with a bit of onion and garlic! While we’ve come a long way since then with all kinds of additions, bottled salad dressing just isn’t one I approve of! But then you probably already knew that if you’re a regular reader! Simple dressings like this are so easy and inexpensive to make at home and there are no worries about strange additives.

Cowboy Caviar Salad

Cowboy Caviar Salad

I stopped in a grocery store here in Minnesota that I don’t usually frequent and happened to see this black-eyed pea salad as I walked past the deli. I love love love Cowboy Caviar with its great sweet/sour tang.Β  I could feel a craving coming on (don’t shop when you’re hungry!) and I picked it up. It was $3.99 for a little 8 ounce package! *gasp!* I immediately put it back!

Then I sidelined to the bean section, knowing I had everything else I needed at home. Truth be told, I had dried black-eyed peas at home but this was an emergency and a can of canned peas (even though they’re about three times the cost of bagged) wasn’t going to break the bank.

I like to keep my Cowboy Caviar simple and not confuse it too much with black bean salsa; lately the two salads seem to beΒ morphing into each other. So no cumin, no avocado and no tomato go into mine. Peppers, though do, and the colorful bells look especially appetizing, and play off the chewy corn. A bit of jalapeno adds just a touch of interest and red onion plays beautifully with the rest of the team.

Cowboy Caviar Salad

Cowboy Caviar Salad

This simple salad is better the next day and the next, so don’t be afraid to double or triple! And do play with it however you’d like. For each can of beans (1 1/2) cups, I like to add a total of about 3 cups of vegetables (no need to be exact) and about 3/4 cup liquid. Red wine vinegar lends a nice, strong flavor, but any vinegar will work.

A touch of sweetness with a tablespoon sugar or honey is nice, but make this as sweet/sour as you’d like. Some of the older recipes use equal ratios of vinegar, oil and sugar! I cut back on the oil and way back on the sugar just to stay on the healthier side. Since the dressing is generally drained away when served this is lighter than it seems at first glance.

Cowboy Caviar Salad

Cowboy Caviar Salad

Cowboy Caviar

  • Servings: 3 1/2 to 4 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

  • 1 can (1 1/2 cups) black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large or 2 smaller bell peppers, diced, any color, but I prefer green & red
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onion
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1 finely chopped clove garlic
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar; any vinegar will work
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon sugar or honey; adjust to taste
  • 1 pickled jalapeno, finely diced, or a tablespoon or two of salsa, or a finely diced jalapeno, optional
  • salt, if desired

Mix all ingredients together, cover and refrigerate for 24 hours or as long as you can wait. Stir now and then. Keeps very well for several days when sturdy vegetables are used. Serve with a slotted spoon or drain before serving.

Note: if using dried beans, one and a half cups are about 1/3 of a pound. A great shortcut is to cook the whole pound and freeze what isn’t used in this recipe in a ziploc bag, covered with the cooking liquid. It will be at the ready for the next Cowboy Salad or another recipe.

From the kitchen of

28 thoughts on “Cowboy Caviar Salad

  1. Pingback: The Purple Almond: Where food is medicine. Thankful Thursday: Mexican Street Corn-Frugal Hausfrau

    • Hi Lori~ so nice of you to notice! I stopped in to the folk’s house in June to find they needed a bit of help and have just kind of stayed on. One neighbor watched my cat, another mowed my lawn and I had my dog with me – but it has taken me a long time to get settled in and things on an even keel. I just signed in on fb for the first time in a couple months and then wordpress; I’ve missed blogging and your sweet comment and others like it are one of the reasons why! πŸ™‚

  2. never heard of this dish but gee, it makes beans look and sound super fancy! This is the sort of salad everyone in my house would eat #winner so I will def be making this come the warmer months.

  3. I’d never heard of this cold salad before though after a bit of thinking, I guess that black eyed peas were involved. πŸ™‚ Very interesting.

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