Texas Caviar

This Texas Caviar mixture ccalls for for marinating a blend of black beans, black-eyed peas, pimiento, sliced jalapenos, celery and onions overnight. (Linda Giuca, Special To The Courant / July 28, 2014)

We had never heard of Texas Caviar until we saw guests at a party quickly empty the bowl. The host referred to it as a "dip" but not in the traditional sense of a pureed condiment like hummus or guacamole.

Directions call for marinating a blend of black beans, black-eyed peas, pimiento, sliced jalapenos, celery and onions overnight, then draining off the oil and cider vinegar marinade. The ingredients stay whole and chunky, meant to be scooped up with corn or tortilla chips.

Colorful and crunchy, the caviar could easily be served as a picnic side dish, and that's what gave us the idea to turn it into a rice or pasta salad. Long grain white or brown rice — or even Israeli couscous — will work nicely. We chose to add cooked orzo.

The need to marinate the salad demands a make-ahead approach, a bonus for busy cooks. We cut the amount of dressing to make draining the salad unnecessary.

TEXAS CAVIAR SALAD

>>1 (15-ounce) can black beans

>>1 (15-ounce) can black eyed peas

>>1 (11-ounce) can shoe peg corn

>>1 (8-ounce) jar jalapenos, sliced

>>1 (4-ounce) jar pimientos, chopped

>>1 medium red onion, chopped

>>3 or 4 stalks celery, chopped

>>1 cup orzo, cooked to al dente in boiling salted water

Marinade:

>>1/4 cup olive oil

>>½ cup sugar

>>½ cup cider vinegar

Put black beans, black-eyed peas, corn, jalapenos and pimiento in a colander, and rinse with cold water. Drain well, and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add celery, onion and orzo and toss gently to mix.

Combine olive oil, sugar and cider vinegar in a small saucepan, and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Pour marinade over bean mixture and toss gently to mix. Refrigerate overnight or at least for a few hours. Allow salad to stand at room temperature about 30 minutes before serving. Serves 10 to 12.