June 24, 2018
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Cowboy Caviar a good salsa substitute

By Sandy Oliver Special to the News, Special to the BDN

Here is another cool idea for hot weather. I met this dish in Amherst, where I was lucky enough to speak to the Upper Union River Historical Society about food in Maine history.

Sylvia Sawyer of Osborne invited me, and before I said a word, I had a bit of a delicious potluck lunch that included this beany, salsalike dish.

Marie Bassett, also of Osborne, supplied the recipe, adding herself to two others in the room who have sent me recipes in the past; bless them.

This dish is meant to be a diplike salsa for scoopy little corn chips, but it also would serve as a salad on greens. It’s wholesome with vivid, fresh flavor.

The version that follows relies on small, tender beans. I used black-eyed peas, but black beans would be good, too. Use finely diced green or red peppers for crunch and red onion, also finely diced.

Marie included what is called shoe peg corn — tiny kernels that add contrasting texture. Not everyone likes the metallic bite of cilantro, but I have come to like it very much, especially in this dish offset by the sweet and sour dressing. Use parsley if you hate cilantro.

How much heat from hot peppers you add is up to you. Marie used finely chopped jalapeno pepper, but you might prefer a milder sort, such as an Anaheim. You might even like the smokiness of chipotle pepper, a dried smoked jalapeno, very good with beans. Lacking peppers, you can use hot sauce.

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I shaved off a little sugar. I also cut back on the oil. A squeeze of lime is good. Suit yourself.

I would be all in favor of a supper consisting of this with chips, a big green salad, and cup of gazpacho or that cold potato leek soup we had back along.

Cowboy Caviar
Yields 12-14 or more appetizer servings.
2 cups black-eyed peas
1 cup shoe peg or whole kernel corn
1 sweet red or green pepper very finely chopped
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
Jalapeno pepper chopped fine, to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1/3 to ½ cup sugar
½ cup cider vinegar
¾ cup olive or canola oil
Lime juice to taste (optional)

Mix ingredients together in a bowl and let marinate for a few hours. Before serving, drain the marinade. Provide large corn chips or scoop-shaped chips.

Send queries or answers to Sandy Oliver, 1061 Main Road, Islesboro 04848. E-mail: tastebuds@prexar.com. For recipes, tell us where they came from. List ingredients, specify number of servings, and do not abbreviate measurements. Include name, address and daytime phone number.

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