What is cowboy caviar and 1 recipe variation you must try

“Cowboy Caviar”, also known as “Texas Caviar”, is taking over TikTok. Learn the story behind this savory snack. (Photo: Getty Creative)

“Cowboy Caviar” has officially broken the internet — or at least TikTok. Although this savory side dish has been a staple in some parts of the country since it was first created in the 40s, it has recently become a source of controversy online, sparking debates about cultural appropriation of the food.

But what is cowboy caviar? What are the ingredients in this trendy snack? And how do you make it?

Melissa Lochhead, a San Antonio, Texas-based content creator and blogger behind Casual Epicure, remembers eating the dish as a young lady. “A traditional ‘Texas caviar’ recipe, sometimes called cowboy caviar, was created by [a Neiman Marcus head chef named] Helen Corbitt in 1940 and is made with black-eyed peas, coriander, garlic, red pepper and red onion and topped with an olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing,” Lochhead tells Yahoo Life. “This dish was a New Year’s tradition [in my family] since before I was born in the 70s.”

In May, food and lifestyle creator Bria Lemirande posted a TikTok showing her making cowboy caviar for the first time. As a child, she would share, eat the dish, and now she wanted to recreate it for the first time herself. The video and others where Lemirande went on to make the dish garnered millions of views and prompted other creators to try the recipe as well. Quickly, this fun foodie trend began to stir up controversy.

Some members of the Latinx community considered the dish to be an appropriation of pico de gallo, a popular salsa originating from Mexico that typically calls for chopped tomatoes, onions, serrano peppers, salt, lime and cilantro. Others have compared it to other salsa-style dips and even to ceviche, a Peruvian dish made from marinated raw fish.

Yahoo Life reached out to Lemirande for comment but did not hear back, however, she did share a TikTok about the Cowboy Caviar controversy that has received nearly three million views.

“I’m so sorry to anyone and everyone I offended by making cowboy caviar,” he says on TikTok. “I didn’t make up the name. I don’t claim to own the recipe…but I can 100% see how cultural appropriation is at play here. Referring to it as cowboy caviar ultimately gives no credit to the Spanish-speaking culture it came from, essentially then erasing it entirely the culture from the plate”.

Of course, Lemirande isn’t the first to post the dish on social media platforms: A Pinterest or Internet search will turn up thousands of recipes on social media platforms and blogs, and grocery chains like Trader Joe’s sell a shelf-stable version in jars. the dip for many years.

Grocery chain Aldi recently launched its own pre-made version of Texas (or cowboy) caviar.  (Photo: Aldi)

Grocery chain Aldi recently launched its own pre-made version of Texas (or cowboy) caviar. (Photo: Aldi)

Aldi is the latest grocery chain to jump on the bandwagon by offering a seasonal Texas caviar, inspired by growing interest in the dish. “Social media is a big influence on anyone wanting to try new foods,” Kate Kirkpatrick, director of communications at Aldi US, tells Yahoo Life, “We stay on top of the latest trends and do our best to offer new products that fascinate and surprise. our buyers”.

Aldi’s Texas Caviar retails for $3.29 and first appeared on store shelves in late July. The item is an “Aldi Find” — a range of products that drop weekly and are trendy or seasonal — meaning it will only be available while stocks last.

Mike Kostyo, associate director and trendsologist at food and beverage market research firm Datassential, says it’s no surprise cowboy caviar is making a resurgence.

“As a country we love salsa,” he says, “In fact, [75%] of consumers say they love or like salsa overall, making it one of America’s top 150 foods and flavors out of more than 4,000 we track.”

In addition, Kostyo shares that the popularity of cowboy caviar can be attributed not only to its delicious taste, but also to the simplicity with which it can be created and the fact that many are already familiar with the dish.

Melissa Lochhead says she's been eating and making cowboy caviar since she was a kid.  (Photo: Melissa Lochhead)

Melissa Lochhead says she’s been eating and making cowboy caviar since she was a kid. (Photo: Melissa Lochhead)

“We keep seeing dishes that basically chop and assemble ingredients do well on TikTok,” he says. “They don’t require extensive cooking skills, they have clear step-by-step instructions, and it’s easy for any creator to swap out a few ingredients and create their own version.”

“Dishes like cowboy caviar, which have actually been around for decades, also have an added advantage in that there will already be some awareness, so it creates a very active comment section,” he adds. “You see a lot of commenters saying they remember when their mom or grandma made a variation, which is nostalgic.”

Anna Silver, founder of Idaho-based Cook for Folks, says the dish is not only a local favorite, but has also served as a delicious, nutritious and affordable option for decades. “This vegetarian salad is definitely a staple in American cuisine—he joked that it’s a cheaper, but just as delicious, alternative to caviar,” he says. “It’s become so popular because of its high protein content, because of the numerous beans and the fact that it only takes ten minutes to cook. It will also keep in the fridge for a while.”

Silver shares her top tip for creating the tastiest batch for your next barbecue or weeknight dinner.

“I would actually recommend letting the salad soak after you put it all together for at least an hour,” she says. “The main thing about beans is that they absorb flavor perfectly, so the longer you leave the beans with the herbs and other flavors, the tastier they will become.”

Want to recreate the dish in your kitchen? Lochhead shares her recipe, which she says is an update on a classic family recipe, perfect for serving chilled this summer.

Cowboy caviar

Concession of Melissa Lochhead

(Photo: Melissa Lochhead)

(Photo: Melissa Lochhead)

Ingredients for dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon lime zest

  • 4 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed (about 2 limes)

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon of sugar

  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder

Caviar Ingredients:

  • 15 ounces black-eye, drained and rinsed

  • 15 ounces black beans, drained and rinsed

  • 1 cup corn, drained and rinsed (if using canned)

  • ¼ cup red onion, diced

  • ½ cup avocado, cut into ½ inch cubes

  • ¼ cup mini bell peppers, diced

  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, sliced

  • 2 onions, chopped

  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Dress instructions:

  1. Whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, salt, sugar, garlic powder and lime zest. Set aside.

Caviar Ingredients:

  1. Drain and rinse the black-eyed peas, black beans and corn.

  2. In a large bowl, combine the black-eyed peas, black beans, corn, red onion, avocado, bell peppers, tomatoes, onion, and cilantro.

  3. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix gently.

  4. Serve with your favorite main dish or as an appetizer with chips.

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