One of the great challenges of summertime cooking is just how dang hot it gets in the kitchen! Fried chicken is a picnic classic, but it also means sweating over a frying pan. Everybody loves potato salad, but nobody really enjoys boiling potatoes. Fresh fruit and cold salads of various types are great for cutting the heat a bit, but sometimes you want something a little bit heartier while also still being refreshing.
And this is where one of the Christian family favorites comes in. I was first introduced to cowboy caviar many years ago when I was a teenager and my mother brought the recipe home from a friend. She had it at a baby shower and wanted to try making it. We gathered together all the ingredients and made up our first batch. It was good, but I wanted to experiment with it a bit more.
Over the years and many family picnics, I refined my recipe more and more. I tried different variations on the dressing, I tried chopping the ingredients at different sizes. Two years into my marriage, I finally hit on the perfect formula.
First of all, it’s very important to have everything be roughly the same size. Slice your bell peppers, tomatoes, and onions all into chunks equal to your bean sizes. Aside from making it easier to chew, this keeps things from getting so small they’re mushy or so big they don’t have a good coating of the dressing on them. A good, ripe avocado will inevitably be somewhat soft, but this blends nicely with the dressing and adds a pleasant, creamy mouth-feel to the cowboy caviar.
There was one special ingredient I discovered through trial and error over the years, which I’m revealing here for the first time ever. It takes all the different parts of cowboy caviar and brings them together into something downright blissful. Nutty, toasty flavors, something almost meaty–and yet 100% vegan and safe for people with nut allergies–you have to experience this fabulous food synergy for yourself.
One of our favorite ways to enjoy cowboy caviar is with corn chips, but honestly I like it nearly as much eaten as a salad all by itself!
Christian Cowboy Caviar
- 2 cups cherry tomatoes
- 2 avocados
- 1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 15 oz can black eyed peas, rinsed and drained
- 1 1/2 cups frozen sweet corn
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 yellow bell pepper
- 1/2 cup red onion
- 1 jalapeno pepper
- 1/2 cup cilantro
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon SECRET INGREDIENT: sesame seed oil
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1 clove garlic
Using a paring knife, carefully quarter your cherry tomatoes. De-seed jalapeno and chop as finely as possible. If your family enjoys some heat to their food as much as mine does, you can reserve the seeds and use them in the dressing. Dice onion and bell peppers into small, bean-sized pieces. Halve avocados and score with a knife, then scoop out pulp into bowl. Cilantro should be finely chopped as well, but reserve a few small sprigs for garnish. Combine all salad ingredients in bowl. The frozen corn will thaw on its own, retaining its sweetness thanks to the lack of heating.
For dressing, crush garlic clove with the back of a knife to release the flavor, then finely mince. Combine with other ingredients and whisk vigorously before pouring over the cowboy caviar. Stir and serve.