Wings. Queso. Burgers. Chili. The food that we love to eat on game day isn’t supposed to be healthy, it’s supposed to taste good with cold beer. But isn’t it a happy accident when a tailgate dish can be both of those things?
Enter Texas Caviar, a classic Southern dish that’s basically a salad masquerading as a fun party dip. You’ll find many variations of this recipe (it dates back to the 1950s), but most include canned black-eyed peas, corn, bell peppers, jalapeno, onion, garlic, and tomatoes (some versions call for ROTEL) all tossed together in a simple vinaigrette-like dressing. One of our favorite versions swaps out the corn for canned white hominy, and adds tangy chopped green tomatoes, fresh cilantro, and bottled Italian dressing.
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However you make Texas Caviar, it is important to mix all of the ingredients together, then store the dip, covered, for at least two hours in the refrigerator. This step will give everything time to marinate and soften up, and it also brings all of the components together. It will also produce a good deal of liquid in the bowl, but that’s okay. When you’re ready to eat, drain off the excess liquid before serving. Tortilla chips are the traditional accompaniment, but pita chips work well too. (Or if you're feeling creative, deviled eggs.)
Texas Caviar is a chunky, scoopable dip with a lively mix of flavors and textures. And when you look at the list of ingredients—primarily vegetables—it’s actually quite healthy, although no one will be thinking that as they dig in. They’ll just appreciate that someone brought something colorful and fresh for the tailgate spread. And that it also happens to taste great with a cold beer.