“Southern Caviar” Black-Eyed Pea Salad

· ·

Affectionately known as “Southern Caviar,” this delicious Black-Eyed Pea Salad made with Italian Dressing is the perfect combo of smoky and zesty. It features smokey black-eyed peas, onions, peppers, celery, and cucumber dressed effortlessly in Italian vinaigrette. Serve this dish with your favorite spring or summer mains.

Join me in celebrating Juneteenth with more than 30 other Black culinary creators. Juneteenth marks our country’s second independence day, signifying the final emancipation of those enslaved in the US announced in 1865. This year, we are celebrating “Freedom Day” by offering a delightful selection of mains, sides, desserts, and refreshing drinks that are perfect for backyard barbecues and summer gatherings with friends and family. Join us in honoring the legacy of progress and freedom by cooking and sharing these recipes. Additionally, you can easily follow each participant by using the hashtag #JuneteenthCookout2023 on Instagram. You can find a list of all recipes from the 2023 Juneteenth Virtual Potluck on the Eat the Culture website.

“Southern Caviar” Black-eyed Pea Salad Recipe

When thinking about Juneteenth, I wanted to create a recipe that paid homage to my culinary history. Throughout my life, black-eyed peas have represented new beginnings. My grandma used to prepare black-eyed peas and ham hocks every year for the new year. She was adamant that they provided luck and prosperity. To be honest, that’s probably why they always give me good vibes, but I only ever viewed them as a cold-weather comfort dish. This changed while watching the food network one day, and seeing one of my favorite Black celebrity chefs, Kardea Brown, make an outstanding Gullah Caviar recipe. This opened my eyes to the possibilities of black-eyed peas all year round.

My version, which I’ve named “Southern Caviar” leans into my favorite summer ingredients and some tips I’ve learned in my travels through the South. I combine the holy trinity (celery, onion, and green peppers), and fresh cucumbers with the black-eyed peas before dressing it in Italian dress to give the salad a zesty zing. And with the growing number of vegans and vegetarians in my family, this dish is easy and accessible to all types of diets. If you like this take on a black-eyed pea salad, check out these other vegan/vegetarian recipes from this year’s Juneteenth Virtual Potluck.

Green Soul (Vegetarian and Vegan)

Key Ingredients for “Southern Caviar” Black-eyed Pea Salad

Here are the key ingredients for this “Southern Caviar” Black-eyed Pea Salad recipe:

  • Black-eyed Peas: The main ingredient in this dish. Use canned black-eyed peas to give this dish a fantastic smokey base.
  • Bell Peppers, Onions, Celery: Known as “The Holy Trinity” in Cajun and Creole cooking, this combination forms the base for many Southern and Gulf States dishes.
  • Cucumber: Adds a refreshing burst of freshness to the salad. Omit the cucumbers, and replace with tomatoes as a variation
  • Italian Dressing: An Italian vinaigrette is ideal for this salad, however, Creamy Italian Dressing will also be delicious. The key is to choose a zesty dressing that pairs well with the smokiness of the black-eyed peas.
  • Green Onions: Optional garnish that enhances the flavor and adds color to the black-eyed pea salad.

How to make “Southern Caviar” Black-eyed Pea Salad

  1. Assemble the Black-eyed Pea Salad.
  2. Add dressing and combine. Pour Italian dressing over the ingredients and use a large wooden spoon to combine. Stir gently so that the black-eyed peas remain intact.
  3. Refrigerate. Place in refrigerator for at least two hours before serving.
  4. Prepare to serve. Mix with a large spoon to redistribute the Italian dressing before serving.
  5. Garnish. Garnish with green onion and black pepper (optional).

Tips for Serving, Storing, and Reheating

To store this black-eyed pea salad, place it in an airtight container for up to 4 days. For longer storage, freezing may be an option. This black-eyed salad can be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight container, but the texture of some ingredients (i.e. cucumbers) may change. To thaw, transfer it from the freezer to the refrigerator overnight. Consume this salad cold or at room temperature. After thawing, stir the salad gently to redistribute flavors, and add extra dressing or seasoning if needed due to moisture absorption during freezing.

If you like this recipe – try out these other great cookout side dishes:

"Southern Caviar" Black Eyed Pea Salad

Yield: 8-10 Servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Affectionately known as "Southern Caviar" this delicious Black-Eyed Pea Salad is the perfect combo of smoky and zesty. Featuring smoky black-eyed peas, onions, peppers, celery, and cucumber dressed in Italian dressing, this dish is the perfect side to your favorite summer mains.


  • 2 Cans of Black-eyed Peas (15 ounces), Rinsed and Drain
  • 1 Red or Green Bell Peppers, Diced
  • 1 Red Onion, Finely Diced
  • 3 Stalks of Celery, Diced
  • 1 Cucumber, Diced
  • 1 Cup Italian Dressing
  • Green Onion for Garnish (Optional)
  • Black Pepper for Garnish (Optional)


  1. In a large mixing bowl, add black-eyed peas, bell peppers, red onion, celery, and cucumber.
  2. Pour Italian dressing over the ingredients and use a wooden spoon to combine.
  3. Garnish with green onion and black pepper. (Optional)


  • You can prepare this dish ahead of time and refrigerate it for at least two hours. Remove from refrigerator when ready to serve, and redistribute the dressing by stirring gently with a large spoon.
  • If you can't find cans of black-eyed peas, you can use a quick-boil method to prepare dried beans. Place 4 cups of dry beans in a large pot and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and boil the dry beans for 2-3 minutes. Remove pot from heat, cover, and allow beans to soak for at least an hour (to get soft beans). Drain and rinse with cold water before using in salad.
  • In place of cucumber, you can use diced tomatoes.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 151Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 201mgCarbohydrates: 10gFiber: 3gSugar: 2gProtein: 3g

Similar Posts


  1. I served this Southern caviar recipe on Juneteenth and it was gone in 30 minutes. It’s so easy to make, which is great when you’re hosting an event or need a quick weeknight recipe. The flavors, which impressed my guests, don’t give away how easy the recipe is, however.

  2. Just had to reach out and give you a big shout-out for your “Southern Caviar” Black-Eyed Pea Salad recipe. I whipped it up for a backyard barbecue, and let me tell you, it was a total hit! The combination of flavors and textures was spot on, and the zesty dressing took it to the next level. Thanks for sharing this gem of a recipe It def brought a taste of the South to my Caribbean table. xx

  3. This southern caviar was so flavorful and a big hit at my Juneteenth cookout a couple of weekends ago. I had to come back and thank you for sharing your recipe!

  4. This recipe took me back to my home state of NC! Black-eyed peas are a big deal there. Since moving to the DC area, I don’t get to have them as much. I made this for my Juneteenth cookout and everyone really enjoyed how light and flavorful this salad was. I can’t wait to make it again!

  5. This recipe is a winner! I made it for a potluck and everyone loved it. It was so easy to make with black-eyed peas and fresh veggies. I also enjoyed the Italian dressing. This is the perfect dish for any occasion!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *