Thursday, January 1, 2009

Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy Caviar, originally uploaded by chrisfreeland2002.

Happy New Year, y'all!

Last night we co-hosted a New Year's Eve party with the Nemanicks at their house. I love all the preparations that lead up to a big party and it was great fun to be able to tackle the effort as a team of 4 (Chris & me, Rik & Dawn). Rik and I both love to cook, so we split the responsibilities for food prep. We went with easy dishes that can fuel a crowd; having thrown a New Year's Eve party for more than 5 years I've learned that people will politely nibble and graze up to midnight, then once the champagne kicks in they're diving into the food like they haven't eaten in weeks.

One of the dishes I made is a perennial favorite - Cowboy Caviar. Tagert actually introduced us all to this dish several years ago, and we've all started making it for parties. It's a simple yet delicious mix of black-eyed peas and spices that you can serve as a dip with chips, and since black-eyed peas are a New Year's Day tradition in many parts of the country, I thought this was a clever dish to crank out for a New Year's Eve crowd.

I always make too much, by design. The flavors continue to develop over a couple of days, so I use leftovers as a topping for chicken or rice. Oh, one last thing - I (we) use canned black-eyed peas. I've tried using the dried ones and preparing them from scratch, but honestly the flavor wasn't any better and it was WAAAY more complicated that just opening a few cans. I know, I know...but look, when you're cooking for a crowd you want to figure out some dishes that you can easily throw together with a delicious result, and this recipe definitely fits those requirements. Enjoy!

3 cans black-eyed peas, drained
2 green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
3 T cilantro, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 T vegetable oil
2 T cider vinegar
Juice and zest of 1 lime

Combine ingredients in a big bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to develop. Serve with chips, or as an accompaniment to meats or rice. (Told you it was simple!)

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