Cowboy Caviar for Car Camping


We're getting ready to head out for 4 days of car camping and day hiking, and I like to make things as easy as possible by prepping snacks and meals as much as I can before we don't have all of the conveniences of home at our fingertips.

A couple of years ago we went salmon fishing on the Kenai Peninsula with some family and friends who live in Alaska. One of the girls brought her version of this simple yet nutritious and filling delicacy to share with everyone - and I have since created my own version to share with you!


  • 5 ripe/on the vine tomatoes (seeds removed, diced)
  • 2 semi ripe avocados (diced)
  • 1 sweet onion (diced)
  • 1 yellow bell pepper (diced)
  • 2 jalapeños (seeds removed, diced into very small pieces)
  • 2 ears of raw sweet corn (use a knife and slice the kernels off)
  • 1 bunch of cilantro (finely chopped)
  • 1 - 15oz can of pinto beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 - 15oz can of black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 1 - 15oz can of black eyed peas (rinsed and drained)


  • 2 small limes (juiced)
  • 4 cloves of garlic (minced very small or pressed)
  • About 1/3 cups of olive oil
  • About 1/4 cups of red wine vinegar
  • A spoonful of sugar
  • A few cranks of fresh Himalayan Sea Salt
  • A few cranks of fresh cracked pepper
  • About 5 shakes of ground cumin
  • About 4 shakes of ground chipotle chile powder
  • Tortilla or corn chips for serving

Chop up all of the veggies *except the avocados, to about the size of a bean or a kernel of corn. Everything should be pretty small and uniform in size so when the salad is all mixed up it's easy to get a little piece of everything in each bite. 

I cook with my heart and soul, so you'll notice the dressing ingredients are a little bit vague. That was on purpose! We all have different taste buds, so it's a suggestion that will get you a bright flavor with a slight bit of heat in the finished dish - but I encourage you to taste test along the way and find your own level of spice and flavor that gets you to your happy place. I don't mix my dressing before I add it to the bowl of chopped veggies - I squeeze the limes directly into the bowl, and I splash the olive oil and the red wine vinegar, etc in there too without measuring because I trust my ancestors to tell me when to stop splashing. Raw garlic gives this dish some heat - so depending upon the day, I may add the 4 cloves I listed above, or I may double it if I want it a little hotter. The chipotle chile powder has a very different slightly smokey taste compared to regular chile powder. You can make this with regular chile powder if that's what you have in the cabinet, but when you make it with the chipotle - it knocks it out of the park.

I like to use raw sweet corn. You can substitute a small bag of frozen sweet corn if it's not in season or just not available. I don't thaw the frozen corn before I throw it in the salad. Last but not least, I save the avocado for last so it stays fresh and in tact for as long as possible.

Toss everything together and there are a few different ways I like to eat this. 

  1. You can serve it on top of a bed of mixed greens with tortilla/corn chips crunched on top
  2. You can eat it as a dip for your tortilla or corn chips
  3. You can eat it right out of the bowl with a spoon or fork, sans chips