Friday, April 10, 2015

Lissa's Cowboy Caviar Salsa

Cowboy Caviar has been a real favorite and crowd pleaser for most salsa lovers in the Southwest.  My family definitely has been a part of that Southwestern movement.  We love salsa.  Some ranching families have been so passionate about Cowboy Caviar is a type of bean salsa that it has been handed down from generation to generation.  Cowboy Caviar has been around for centuries, longer than America as a nation.  I would guess its at least a few centuries old, if not more. Cowboy Caviar is bursting with all kinds of different vegetable flavors.  It is definitely vegetarian.  I apologize there is not any caviar in this recipe (unless you are a carnivore and want to add it), my recipe is very rich in flavor.   Cowboy Caviar has been remade over and over from generation to generation.  Each time it gets better.  Cowboy Caviar has been an iconic food of the Southwest.

Our family has had a long history of salsa making.  My Great-grandma Mam who was a bonafide cattle woman made Cowboy Caviar as well as many different salsas for our family.  I can remember my grandfather making this, and my mother making Cowboy Caviar for us as well.  I have made it for my daughter so that's about five family generations.  It's hard to think that our family has lived in the Southwest that long; yep, five generations.  We have been handing down family recipes that long too.  This is one of my family's favorite salsa recipes.  Be ready to be blown away because the flavor for this is out of this world.

Cowboy Caviar

1 can Black Beans
1 can White Corn or Shoepeg White Corn
1 can of Black Eyed Peas
1 Tomato (ripe, hard in texture)
1 Bell Pepper any color (I used orange)
1/2 Red Onion
4 stalks of Green Onion
1 Avocado
6-10 stalks of Cilantro
2 Tbsp of White Vinegar
1 6 oz package Italian Salad Dressing
1 Lime

Here is my little Frito Bandito and kitchen helper, Nicole.  She looks quite nice in a cowgirl hat. Yee-haw!

Strain and rinse the black beans, white corn, and black eyed peas.  What I did is I removed the top of the can with a can opener and then kept the lid on, turned the water on the faucet and rinsed over the sink.  After I rinsed the beans and corn out with water, I removed the lids.   Be gentle with the black eyed peas because they are very delicate and mash easily.

I place the beans and corn into a mixing bowl.  These are the black beans.  Don't they look delicious?  They are full of protein and so healthy for you.

Black Eyed Peas, Black Beans and White Corn

I mentioned picking a tomato that has a hard in texture and ripe.  This is the center of the tomato.  It's got a firmness and it will self ripen after it is cut.  After I cut this in half, I removed the stem, and then diced them into small chunks.

Now that half of the tomato is cut into chunks, I have to cut up the other half of the tomato.

Isn't this beautiful.  I just want to pause for a minute and take in all of the colors of the different vegetables.  Aren't they beautiful?  Wait until you taste them altogether.  It's going to be fabulous.

Here is our orange bell pepper.  Orange is kind of a different color.  I first wanted to go with red bell pepper, but I've had yellow, red and green, all the typical colors.  I wanted to have some fun and try something atypical. I just loved the colors of this orange pepper.  It doesn't even look like a pepper, it looks like some kind of citrus.

I sliced the orange pepper into pieces, and as you notice, there are plenty of seeds on the inside.  These need to be removed.  The easiest way to remove the seeds is to slice back the white areas.  Most of the bell pepper seeds were towards the top.  De-seeding this was not to bad.  It came off pretty clean.

As I was removing the seeds, I realized something -- it's heart shaped. Awe.  

I gave this a taste and it did taste a little more like citrus.  Orange bell peppers are sweet like orange candy.  

It's hard for me to cut green onions.  I get so emotional and I break down and cry.  Luckily these are nothing like white onions.  They don't have that hard odor that permeates the air.  Green onions are much lighter.  I did feel a tear sliding down my cheek, it was nothing like the river of tears from cutting up white onions.  Even for someone who completely detests onions, these green onions are so mild in flavor that they are more agreeable to the palate.

Look at this color.  It's a beautiful green to white green onion ombre.  

I have one more onion that I need to add to my cowboy caviar.  I am going to add red onion.  Red onion is also a more mild onion.  It's great for salads and salsas like this. 

The flavor has all of the tenancies of a regular onion.  I didn't cry cutting this one.  I finished dicing the red onion into small pieces.  It was very mild and very colorful.  The outside is red, and the centers are white. I removed the onion peel. I removed the centers of the red onion and discarded them. I cut out the root and the stem. I love the purple red texture of a red onion.  I was able to taste a piece of red onion and it was sweet like an apple.

Now I'm moving onto cutting up the avocado.  I think the best way to pick out an avocado at the grocery store is to find one where the skin has changed from green to black.  Loose black peels on an avocado are a sign of ripeness.  This one is just right, perfect ripeness.  Use a chopping knife and cut the avocado in half, and then press the blade of the knife into the seed, and the seed will stick to the knife and can be easily removed.

Avocado tip:  Avocados are one of the first things to go bad in a salsa.  When an avocado gets old, it will turn brown.  The best way to have fresh avocado in the salsa is to separate the salsa into two bowls.  Keep one bowl of salsa to eat today, and put fresh avocado in the salsa and eat it immediately.  Do not put avocado in the second day bowl until the next day.  Then each day you have a fresh and vibrant avocado added to your cowboy caviar.

I used a fork to stir the beans and corn.  It's important to stir gently because the black eyed peas are very delicate types of beans and you don't want to turn them so hard that they mash.

Here is a recap.  Here are the ingredients so far.  All of this is going to go into the mixing bowl. 

I added the tomatoes first.  I placed them over the center of the beans and corn. 

After that I used my diced orange bell pepper, and placed that on the side of the diced tomato. 

After that, I added the green onion to the other side of the tomato.  This salsa is going to be very colorful.

After that, I added the diced red onion, and added even more color.  The mixing bowl is starting to take on some vibrant natural colors.

I added the avocado. 

Here we go.  I'm very careful with the cilantro.  I have known plenty of cooks to throw in the cilantro stems and all.  I'm a little more particular.  I mainly want the leaves.  Some people chop the leaves down, but I generally don't.  I just leave the leaves.  Of all the different flavors of all the ingredients, the one with the most flavor was no doubt the cilantro.  The cilantro is a must have for this recipe.  I'm not cutting the leaves.  I am adding the cilantro leaves as is.

Here is our ripe green lime.  I just love the tart flavor of a lime.  It makes your lips and cheeks pucker in a way.  What I mostly want the lime for is the fresh lime juice.  Some people might use a juicer, but I don't.  I just quarter the lime and squeeze the lime juice on top.  The lime is mandatory.  The lime juice will keep all the other ingredients in the salsa fresh.  I made sure to get lime juice all over the salsa.

I put the cilantro into the mixing bowl so that I could squeeze fresh lime juice over the whole bowl of salsa.

This is the lime in half.  This lime is very vibrant green.  I love the tart smell of fresh lime.

I have two more ingredients.  I'm going to use white vinegar and Italian salad dressing mix.  Some cooks will add olive oil.  I did not because these veggies will water up on their own.  I didn't want the salsa to be too runny.  I added 2 Tbsp of white vinegar and a whole package of Italian dressing.

The Italian salad dressing is in the center. 

I stirred this gently with a fork.  I did not want to crush any of the beans.  I was very careful with the avocado.  The colors are very awakening.

I served the cowboy caviar on a plate with tortilla chips. 

Lissa's Cowboy Caviar Salsa has amazing flavor.  It's great for family gatherings.  Nicole did not want to eat this because it had onion in it.  She has had it with onion before, but once she discovered that the salsa had onion in it, she would not touch it.  If the kids are picky eaters, the onion can be dropped from the recipe.  The recipe is a mild salsa.  Some kids might not like it because of the acidity in the onions and the acidity in the tomato.  Most of the adults that I have talked to absolutely love this.

Almost all of the ingredients were raw (with exception to the vinegar and Italian salad dressing), my cowboy caviar for the most part is raw natural ingredients.  The prep time dicing all of the ingredients took a long time.  If there is extra help in the kitchen, definitely take advantage of the kitchen help so that the food prep goes faster.  Lissa's Cowboy Caviar Salsa is absolutely delicious.  Try it.  I think you will like it.

Thanks for reading.  Until next time...

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