Texas Caviar

photo by Kelly Yandell

Kelly Yandell from her blog, “The Meaning of Pie”

8 servings

There are all kinds of names for (and varieties of) that local food we all call black-eyed peas. In fact, they are actually cowpeas, which are beans. There are many regional cousins such as crowders, colored-eyes, and creamers, and the variety names are wonderful: Mississippi Silverbrown, Blue Goose, Texas Big Boy and Dixie Queen, to name only a few. Cowpeas are an exceptional Texas crop because they are drought-tolerant and thrive in harsh conditions. Texas Caviar is a classic Texas dish. Even if you choose canned black-eyed peas when fresh are not in season, try the homemade vinaigrette. It makes a huge difference, and you’ll be rewarded with a fresher, more piquant dip.

3 cups of fresh black-eyed peas
½ medium onion, halved
1 slice of thick-cut bacon
1 (14-ounce) can of low sodium chicken broth
1 red bell pepper, diced small
1 large jalapeño pepper, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
3 scallions, (including some of the green) thinly sliced
10 to 15 grape tomatoes, rough chopped
1 teaspoon fresh minced oregano
1 teaspoon fresh chopped parsley
Vinaigrette dressing (see below)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Place the fresh black-eyed peas, onion, bacon, and chicken broth in a medium saucepan. Add enough water to cover the peas.
  2. Simmer over medium heat uncovered for approximately 25 to 30 minutes or until the peas are as tender as you prefer them. Strain the peas into a colander. Discard the onion and bacon. Place the cooked peas, the peppers, garlic, scallions, tomatoes, and herbs in a medium bowl.
  3. Pour the vinaigrette over ingredients and combine well. Season as needed with salt and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve. Serve with tortilla chips.

For the Vinaigrette:

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup champagne vinegar
1½ teaspoons brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne

Place the ingredients in a lidded jar and shake until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Tip #1: This is best made a day, or at least several hours, in advance so that the flavors can blend together nicely. The caviar will keep in the refrigerator for several days. You may strain off some of the vinaigrette before serving. Tip #2: You can substitute 2 cans of drained black-eyed peas for the fresh peas.

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KELLY YANDELL is a writer and photographer based in Dallas. She has contributed to Edible Dallas & Fort Worth since 2011. Her website ( celebrates practical dishes and comfort foods, while her photography portfolio can be found at Kelly is an attorney and is the vice president of the Advisory Board of Foodways Texas, an organization founded by scholars, chefs, journalists, restaurateurs, farmers, ranchers, and other citizens of the state of Texas who have made it their mission to preserve, promote and celebrate the diverse food cultures of Texas.