Thursday, July 1, 2010

Side dish ideas for outdoor entertaining

Looking for something a bit different to serve at your next outdoor gathering? I have 2 side dishes for you to consider. Both very different, but each has fans!

The first is called Texas Caviar. It's traditionally served as a dip with tortilla chips, which my family quickly devoured. I'm showing it without the traditional tortilla chips, because the leftovers make a great cold salad, by themselves, or mixed with some different vegetables - I mixed it with cucumbers, avocado, and mushrooms.

Mine came out a bit soupy as you can see from the picture, but I drained it a little bit before serving and it was great. Mine was soupy because I didn't seed the tomatoes, and used frozen corn, since the fresh didn't look good the day I went shopping.

Now, I love chips and dip as a quick appetizer for when the family comes over. They are fans as well. However, I was looking for a variation that didn't include a lot of cheese, sour cream, or mayo, and didn't have avocados in it. I also wanted something a bit different than traditional salsa's, since I think those were getting a bit boring.

I wanted something a bit different, and remembered a dish I ate once when I lived in So. Cal. After scouring the internet for decent recipes, I came up with my own. I was worried about serving this to my family - I didn't know how well the black eyed peas would be received by my family, but everyone loved it.

This is a quick and easy salad I have been serving for a very long time. It's main component is Chicken Rice a Roni. As you can see, I added a bit too much mayonaise to mine, but the recipe shows a reduction in the amount of mayo. This is surprisingly good, and I've had people eat it that hate rice a roni. It's a nice change of pace from traditional potato or macaroni salad if you are looking for a change of pace. If you like this salad, you can make it quite a few ways, adding different vegetables to suit your taste. You can also add diced chicken or cooked beans to make a complete meal.

Revised Texas Caviar

1 can black eyed peas, drained well (this is just under 1 2/3 cups)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 anaheim pepper, diced finely
1 large tomato (about 1 cup), finely diced
2/3 c. zesty italian salad dressing
1/3 c. sweet onion, diced
1/2 t. pepper
small dash sricha hot sauce
1/2 t. garlic powder
2 t. apple cider vinegar
1/2 t. smoked paprika

In a large bowl, mix pepper, hot sauce, italian dressing, vinegar, and smoked paprika. Gently fold in remaining ingredients, being careful to not break up the ingredients too much. Although you can serve immediately, it's better if you let this sit in the refrigerator up to 24 hours before service. Serve with tortilla chips.

Rice a roni Salad

1 package chicken rice a roni, cooked according to package directions and cooled
1/3 to 1/2 c. mayonnaise
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 can medium pitted black olives, sliced
1/4 t. pepper
3 green onions, finely diced
1/2 t. rice vinegar or 1 t. lemon juice

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients until combined. Refrigerate. Serve cold.


  1. Hey! These sound really good to me right now-I haven't had dinner, as I'm waiting for my lovey to get home from the airport (smile)...
    In reference to your ?s about namoura, I think brown sugar would be okay for the cake. It will change the color of the cake though. Coconut milk sounds fantastic! A lot of families make that cake with some sweet coconut strewn in the batter, so coconut milk would be fitting!