I had never really heard of black eyed peas until I moved to Texas. I guess my childhood in the northeast left my bean horizons sadly unexplored. I'll have to lodge a complaint with my parents for stunting my bean education so badly. Lucky for CC he is growing up in Austin where no variety of produce goes unsung.
So what's up with black eyed peas? These starchy little beans hold up quite well in hot weather, making them a staple in gardens throughout the southern states. Even I couldn't kill them! Black eyed peas have a very mild flavor and a pleasantly tender bite, and they are as easy to cook as they are to grow.
My favorite way to enjoy black eyed peas is in a simple cold salad called Texas Caviar. It's quite similar in nature to a Three Bean salad - dressed in a sweet and salty vinaigrette and tossed with veggies. Texas Caviar adds a pinch of heat though, and depending on which family recipe you are using, it often includes an unexpected ingredient like jicama, sweet corn, or in this case, mango.
I really love the combination of sweet and spicy flavors in my Texas Caviar, so this recipe uses fresh diced mango. You could easily replace the mango with another sweet tart fruit such as peach, nectarine, or pineapple. When I make this I use the full four tablespoons of minced jalapeño, but feel free to use half as much or omit it all-together if you'd prefer something not so hot.
The addition of fresh cilantro, chives, or scallions in this salad is great too. When you've put it all together you can enjoy it as a fresh summery side dish, a quick lunch, or even a dip. Texas Caviar goes great with crunchy tortilla or pita chips.
Black Eyed Pea & Mango Salad (Mango Texas Caviar)
Makes about eight 1/2 cup servings
- 1 1/2 cups black eyed peas, cooked
- 1 cup diced mango
- 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
- 1/2 cup dice green pepper
- 1/2 cup diced onion (red or white)
- 4 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- The juice of 1 lime
- 2-4 tablespoons minced pickled jalapeño
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
- If you are using fresh black eyed peas, boil them until they become tender (about 15 minutes), then rinse them with cold water, and drain. Dried peas will have to be soaked overnight before cooking. If you are using canned peas you will not need to cook them, but they should be rinsed well to remove any extra sodium.
- Combine the black eyed peas, mango, bell peppers, onion, jalapeño, and garlic in a large mixing bowl.
- In a second bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, honey, lime juice, salt, and pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine. You can serve this immediately but I think it tastes a little better if it has an hour or so to chill in the fridge.