2018-06-13 / Featured / Taste

In the mix: Cookouts call for no-fuss sides

Food Savvy by SARAH KURYSZ

JENNY McQUEEN JENNY McQUEEN With Memorial Day behind us and the Fourth of July ahead, we are squarely in cookout season, when the mixing bowls used for winter baking get repurposed as vessels for heaping piles of chips, big vats of dip and cold salads. The best cookout side dishes are low maintenance: those that involve little prep and no cook time, can be consumed without a plate and fork, and don’t spoil in the heat.

Maybe that’s why Texas caviar has amassed such a fanbase over the years. Perfect in its simplicity, it’s one of those dishes that pops up across many families and circles of friends, no one quite knowing when or where it originated, only that they’ve “been making it forever.”

You’ve likely encountered this colorful dip-meets-salad-meets-side-dish at a barbeque or potluck. Contrary to its name, there’s no roe here. Instead, beans, corn, bell peppers, jalapenos, red wine vinegar, garlic and fresh herbs commingle for crisp, hearty summer flavor. The great thing about Texas caviar is that in addition to scooping it up with a corn chip, you can use it to top off fish or grilled chicken or steak for delicious, easy tacos. This recipe is the way I make it, tweaked and personalized from the way my mom made it: not too spicy, with the crunch of the fresh bell peppers front and center. Black beans are my pick, as their texture is firmer and flavor less starchy than other canned beans. I opt for frozen corn as canned corn is too mushy and fresh corn must be cut from the cob – summer cookouts are about ease.

Because there is a fair amount of vinegar, you want to let the mix rest for 30 minutes before going too heavy on salt or spice. The vinegar will break down the ingredients, unlocking salt and heat flavors in the process.

Texas caviar

Yields 8-10 servings
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
12 ounces frozen corn, thawed
1 small red onion, minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
(Remember the seeds and pith contain
the most capsaicin – what makes a
pepper hot.)
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 orange bell pepper, diced
6 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
(about ¾ cup)
3 Tablespoons flat leaf parsley,
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup red wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lemon and 1 lime
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl until well mixed. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes, remove and season to taste. Though it will store for 2-3 days in the fridge, this dish is best made the day of, as part of its appeal is the crunch of the fresh veggies.

Texas caviar is extremely versatile! Try black-eyed peas if black beans don’t strike your fancy. A cup of freshly diced tomatoes gives the dish more of a salsa vibe. The addition of cumin will yield a more robust and earthy flavor – perfect for serving over grilled chicken. Enjoy! ¦

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