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Holy Buckets of Bean Caviar!
June 21, 2007

Bean caviar or salsas have been around for many years and summer seems like the perfect time to feature them in a cooking column.  Black beans are the perfect base to build an inexpensive, nutrient-rich, vibrant-colored vegetable appetizer to go with a cookout or any summertime party.

I took them both to a friends retirement party recently and was deluged with requests for the recipes.  The adults liked that olive one (Texas Caviar) and whipped out plastic containers to take the leftovers home.  One person provided stamps so I could mail the recipes to her.  That was a first!

Salsa and caviar calorie counts will vary according to the amount of sugar and oil added to the vegetables.  Both of these recipes use ½ cup of sugar; Splenda can be substituted in either one.

The Black Bean Fiesta Salsa recipe only has 3 tablespoons of oil in 8 cups of vegetables, so it is low calorie and includes lots of vibrant-colored vegetables that are high in nutrients and naturally fat-free.

The Texas Caviar has the most beans and ¾ cup oil or 3 times as much in 11 cups.  The oil in the caviar recipe could be cut back to 4 tablespoons to keep the good taste and lower the fat and calorie content.  It is wise to use a little fat so that the dish has good flavor (we taste for fat as well as salt, sweet, sour, etc.) but a little will do just as well as a lot.  If you are concerned about keeping your sodium low, choose a recipe without olives or use them as a topping so they can be easily removed.

Remember that the carrier for the dip or salsa has calories.  Choose baked chips, use taco shells cut in pieces, baked and eaten warm; pita bread or other low fat crackers.   Be a little conservative when you help yourself; use a small serving spoon and take more vegetables than high fat chips.

If you have any leftovers, use them as a marinated salad with any meal.

Black Bean Fiesta Salsa

First place winner in Northarvests
Black Bean Fiesta contest.  Festive, slight sweet, fresh tasting vegetable salsa. 

7  8 cups (2 quarts) - 16 ½ cup servings


2 15.5-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup frozen corn, rinsed under warm water and thawed

½ pound jicama, peeled and diced (two 8-ounce cans of water chestnuts rinsed and diced may be substituted for jicama)   

1 sweet red pepper, remove seeds and dice

5 whole green onions, cleaned and chopped

2 fresh tomatoes, diced

2 teaspoons minced garlic (refrigerated or fresh)

½ or whole bunch fresh cilantro, finely chopped


½ cup lemon juice (fresh or bottled)

¼ cup lime juice (fresh or bottled)

½ cup sugar or Splenda

1 teaspoon salt

3 tablespoons olive oil



1.  Combine vegetables, garlic and cilantro in 2-quart covered bowl. 

2.  Measure dressing ingredients into a pint jar.  Cover jar tightly, shake until sugar is dissolved.  Pour dressing over vegetables and stir thoroughly.

3.  Marinate in refrigerator overnight or at least 2 hours to blend flavors. 

4.  Use a slotted spoon to move vegetables to serving bowl to reduce amount of dressing.  Serve, with slotted spoon, as a condiment with chips, tacos, fajitas or as a salad. 

5.  Salsa may be refrigerated up to 2 weeks.

Texas Caviar

11 cups  - 22 ½-cup servings



½ cup sugar or Splenda

¼ to ¾ cup oil

1 cup vinegar

1 15.5-ounce can pinto beans

1 15.5-ounce can black beans

1 15.5-ounce can navy beans

1 15.5-ounce can black-eyed peas

1 11-ounce can Shoepeg corn

1 5.75-ounce can black olives

½ cup green olives

1 4-ounce can diced green chilies

3 stalks celery

2 pickled jalapeno peppers

Black pepper

Scoop tortilla corn chips


1.       Dressing:  Combine sugar, ¼ cup oil and vinegar in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil.  Pour into a 3 or 4 cup refrigerator container and chill. 

2.       Caviar:  Drain and rinse four cans of beans and peg corn.  Pour into a large bowl.

3.       Slice the black and green olives.  Finely chop celery and jalapeno peppers.

4.       Add olives, celery, peppers, chilies and dressing to the beans and corn.  Stir to combine.  Season with black pepper.  Taste and add more black pepper and oil, if desired. 

5.       Serve with scoop corn chips.  Cover and refrigerate leftovers.     


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Northarvest Bean Growers Association | 50072 East Lake Seven Road | Frazee, MN 56544
Ph: 218-334-6351 | Fax: 218-334-6360 | Email: