August 3, 2010

Giddy Up, Cowboy!

It's only Tuesday, and already I'm thinking about the weekend.  The reality of school starting again and attending full time is just that much closer now that it's officially August and the start of classes is 3 weeks away.  It's planning mode.  Cram as much of summer as I can into the next 20 days.  There are beach days, and mini vacations, and BBQs to attend.  There are afternoon happy hours and pools that I must find.  The next 20 days are one extended weekend and I need to make the most of it.  Because after that, I'm going to be bogged down with Chemistry, drowning in Statistics and up to my knees in Psychology (yeah, I obviously leave all the fun classes for last), and really, that sounds like the opposite of summer to me.

What I can see as being a part of my extended weekend is Texas Caviar.  Oddly named and not fish derived in the least this black eyed pea mixture is also sometimes called Cowboy Caviar - though it's not made from cowboys either.  It's sort of a half pickled chunky bean dip, best scooped up with tortilla chips.  You know, it's one of those casual dips where there are approximately a million variation on the idea, but this is the version I hold dear.  Sometimes there's Italian dressing (erm, no thanks, I don't even keep bottled dressing in the house), sometimes different colored peppers, sometimes corn, but this is the version that I first had, a few Labor days ago soaking in the hot hot sun at the beach, and it's the one I'll probably always prefer.  Heavier on lime juice and vinegar with only a touch of olive oil, smoky depth from cumin and crunchy bell peppers studded throughout.  And don't forget about the freshly minced garlic.  It's like pico de gallo's older hippy sister.  By which I mean it's sort of a salsa, but healthier and more complete.

Now pass the tortilla chips, please.

Texas Caviar

Like I said above, this is the version I prefer but it's by no means the one and only.  Feel free to play around with the flavors; use a different red bell pepper for something a bit sweeter, a serrano (or two) for more heat, add more olive oil. There's just enough liquid after it sits for a few hours that it makes a good dip, but not so much you couldn't serve this as a salad.

makes 4-5 cups

1-15oz can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 green bell pepper, diced

1 medium (or 2 roma) tomato, chopped

About 4 or 5 thinly sliced green onions
Chopped Cilantro - about 1/2 bunch.
1 minced and seeded jalapeno

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 minced garlic cloves

Ground cumin to taste - about 1/2 teaspoon to start

Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
Fresh lime juice, to taste, about 1

Mix all ingredients together and let marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.

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