I have a lot of love for the great state of Texas.
You see the Lone Star state is the birthplace of Texas Caviar, according to documented accounts and urban legend.
Yes, I am a big fan of the black-eyed pea salad that doubles as a side dish and appetizer.
This humble dish has distinguished beginnings. New York native and Texas transplant Helen Corbitt first featured the dish at a New Year’s Eve event hosted at a Houston, Texas country club nearly 80 years ago.
One can only imagine the wonder, amazement and perhaps wrinkled noses of guests as they gazed upon this gussied-up offering of black-eyed peas presented as part of their menu to usher in the new year. The time honored tradition of eating a bowl of the pale little legumes – often slowed cooked in some kind of animal fat – is surrounded in the folklore that they bring about prosperity and good luck for the new year. But Corbitt’s lucky peas were a whimsical and unexpected way to celebrate the hope and aspiration for a prosperous and happy new year.
Doing it Cali style
Texas does things in a big way. Corbitt’s Texas Caviar and the many variations derived from it, deliver big flavor. I have been a big fan of what some call the “salsa/salad hybrid” for longer than I can remember. But – and you knew there was a but coming – as a California native with Southern sensibilities, I had to “Cali-fi” it because we do things in a big way here too. And you know what they say, “As California goes, so goes the nation.”
That is exactly my intent with my “Cali-fied” Caviar recipe. Peeled radishes are used in my recipe to give it texture and depth. Fresh mint and a simple lemon vinaigrette dressing made with a hint of sesame seed oil marry the ingredients and take this salad to that umami zone. If you like Texas Caviar, you will love this version straight from my little California kitchen to yours.
Oh, and you don’t have to wait for the arrival of a shiny new year to make this recipe. No sir, no ma’am, you can make it today, tomorrow or anytime you want to get a little”Cali-fied.”
Happy cooking and I send you good luck and prosperity all year long.
Cali-fied Caviar is a fresh new take on Texas Caviar, California style.
1 15.5 ounce can Black eye peas, drained and rinsed
2-3 medium sized Roma tomatoes, halved, seeded and chopped
½ cup green bell pepper chopped
6 radishes, peeled and diced
1/3 cup green onions, sliced
¼ cup red onion, chopped
1 ear corn, grilled and removed from cob
1 heaping tablespoon fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, halved, seeded and chopped
Grapeseed oil for grilling corn on stove top
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
Red pepper flakes
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
¼ teaspoon sesame seed oil
1. Add 1 tablespoon of grapeseed oil to a nonstick skillet set on medium heat.
2. Add corn to skillet and cook, turning frequently, until brown on all sides.
3. Remove from heat. Let cool and cut corn kernels from the cob. Set aside. Drain and rinse black-eyed peas. Add to a large mixing bowl
4. Add all remaining to the black-eyed peas including cut corn.
5. In a separate bowl, add lemon juice, olive oil, salt, chopped garlic and sesame seed oil. Whisk well with a metal whisk.
6. Pour vinaigrette over black eye-peas and chopped vegetables and mix well. Add red pepper flakes, cracked pepper and salt to taste.
7. Serve as a side salad or as appetizer with tortilla chips. Recipe can easily be doubled.