Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar and tortilla chips

A few months ago, I had the following exchange with my darling husband, who you’ll remember is not from Texas.

Matt: What’s Texas caviar?
Me: Black-eyed peas.
Matt: Oh, I thought it was veal testicles.
Me: ???????

What can I say, the man leaves me speechless sometimes……

black-eyed peas

Texas Caviar is actually a salad-esque dish of black-eyed peas and veggies; it’s eaten either with a spoon as a salad/side dish, or with tortilla chips as an appetizer/dip. It was created in the 1950’s by a woman named Helen Corbitt. Corbitt moved from New York to Dallas to become the food service director at Neiman Marcus, an upscale department store.

assembling Texas caviar

The New York native was understandably unfamiliar with the humble legume, but quickly discovered its deep roots and beloved status in Texas. She came up with this dish and began serving it at swanky gatherings and chic hotels. When she served it to some wealthy patrons at Austin’s Driskill Hotel, it was dubbed Texas Caviar, and the name stuck.

making Texas caviar

It’s a delicious, healthy and filling dish. I was happy to finally make it for Matt and let him see what the fuss is *really* all about (as well as what it’s not about). I can report that he is now a big fan of the humble black-eyed pea recipe. With tortilla chips, of course.

So now I proudly present to you official, legit Texas Caviar.
With no veal. And no testicles.

Texas Caviar

Texas Caviar with tortilla chips

Source: The Homesick Texan Cookbook by Lisa Fain

2 (15 oz.) cans of black-eyed peas, drained
4 scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup chopped cilantro
3 jalapenos, stemmed, seeded and diced
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbs olive oil
2 tbs lime juice
1 generous tsp ground cumin
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Tortilla chips, for serving

In a large bowl, stir together the black-eyed peas, scallions, cilantro, jalapenos, tomatoes, bell pepper, and garlic.
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, and cumin. Stir into the black-eyed pea mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Chill for 4 hours. Serve cold with tortilla chips.

14 responses to “Texas Caviar

  1. We love our peas in Georgia too, and this sounds just wonderful. I had something like this served in a lettuce cup at a swank restaurant in Savannah years ago. The tortilla chips sound like a great addition. Matt, bless his heart, must have had a sheltered upbringing. It’s going to be OK though, you are there to guide him along the path of righteous Southern ways.

  2. Julie,
    Tell Matt that veal testicles are much bigger. Back in my college days, we called any available testicles that were breaded and deep fried Rocky Mountain Oysters. And that’s good eating.
    Your Texas Caviar looks just wonderful to me–I’d love to dig a chip into some!

    • Texan New Yorker

      Yes, both Matt and myself are quite familiar with Rocky Mountain Oysters. They’re actually pretty good, right?

  3. In my defense, “Texas Caviar” does sound like an analogue of “Rocky Mountain Oysters”… 🙂

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  6. A classic Texas dish! This looks delicious!

  7. My sister-in-law is from Texas and makes a version of this. So yummy! I just love black eye peas!

  8. I have only had this once and I LOVED it. I never knew the history of it but as a history buff I’m always interested in how certain dishes came about. 🙂

  9. Love Texas Caviar. Great story behind it too.

  10. Haven’t had blackeyed peas in ages! Such a nice summer dish

  11. Do you have the source (which of Helen Corbitt’s cookbooks) of this original recipe? I have known and used a similar one for many years, but it is not in either of her cookbooks I have.
    M. A. Hise, a misplaced Texan now in Connecticut

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