Recipe: "Cowboy Caviar" (Veggie Salsa)

I got this recipe from my best friend, Emmie, and her family, and it quickly became my go-to dish for picnics, parties, and summer snacking. I can’t, for the life of me, remember where its name came from, but it’s essentially a chunky vegetable salsa served best with tortilla chips. When I first encountered this dish, Emmie and I were preparing it for a Stanley Cup party at her place back in 2009 (the Pittsburgh Penguins were the champs that year! So awesome!). I wasn’t that enthusiastic about the ingredients at the time (I’d never had avocado, I wasn’t a fan of tomatoes, and I was pretty sure I’d hate the black beans), but Emmie insisted it would all come together perfectly and I’d love it—and she was right. It’s chunky, packed with flavor, and a great way to get your vegetable serving for the day.

Served in Tostitos Scoops chips

Serves: Many
Prep. time: 10-20 minutes
Cooking time: No cooking necessary
Difficulty: Easy


  • 1 lime, juiced (or approx. 2 tbsp. bottled lime juice)
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 4 avocados, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 or 15 oz.) can petite diced tomatoes (I like to drain some of the liquid from the can, but it’s not necessary)
  • 1 (14.5 or 15 oz.) can black beans, drained
  • 1 (14.5 or 15 oz.) can yellow corn, drained
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)

Add the black beans, corn, red onion, tomatoes, and avocado to a large bowl. Be sure the red onion pieces are small, because the flavor is very strong and getting a huge chunk of red onion in your mouth is not very tasty. Gently stir the ingredients together to mix, being careful not to crush the avocado. Add the lime juice and salt and pepper, to taste, and stir a little more to mix. Add cilantro if desired (my mom hates cilantro, so I only add it if she’s not around to eat it). Serve with tortilla chips or pita/flat bread.
It keeps for 3-5 days in the fridge (though my dad will keep eating it for a week or more)—the avocado will start to brown fairly quickly, but while the mixture may not look as appealing after the first day, it’s just as tasty! If you use fresh limes, I highly recommend keeping the zest and using it in another dish. It’s such a shame to waste such a delicious ingredient. I’m planning on using the lime zest from today to make mini lime cheesecakes tomorrow—recipe to follow, of course!

Close up of those delicious veggies

This salsa is delicious, and pretty healthy (if you don’t eat too many tortilla chips with it). It’s great for parties (I made it for a Super Bowl party during my junior year of college and it was a big hit), but it also works great as an easy summer snack.


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