Corn, black beans, tomatoes, red bell peppers, onions, and chipotle in adobo sauce; is there a better salsa combination? Trader Joe’s Copycat Cowboy Caviar is easy and delicious, and now you can stock your pantry with it and eat to your heart’s content!
A few months back, me and my two favourite ladies, Margaret and Lesli, jumped into Margaret’s Ford Flex and made a beeline for the border. No, we were not practicing our Thelma and Louise-style getaway; we were heading to Buffalo to get our shop on. As much as we love our native Canada, the three of us love to shop until we drop at our favourite US retailers.
One such retailer is Trader Joe’s. The first time I went there, I felt like I had found the answer to most of life’s problems. Well, at least the problems that usually find me at dinnertime. As I have mentioned a million times before, both John.e and McKenna are vegetarians. Prepared vegetarian proteins are hard to find, but at Trader Joe’s, I had found the mecca of vegetarian ‘meats.’
In addition to soy-based sausage and chorizo, every flavour of tempeh under the sun, and the best vegan and vegetarian burgers and hotdogs known to man, there’s also a wonderful selection of sugar free, low sodium, organic, etc., sauces and condiments.
Nobody loves a sauce or a condiment as much as I do, so when I laid eyes on those very reasonably priced jars of Fire Roasted Tomato Salsa, Corn and Chili Salsa, and of course, the Cowboy Caviar, I had to have all of them.
I bought one jar of the Cowboy Caviar and had finished it up within a week. I loved it so much that Margaret, Lesli and I found ourselves back at Trader Joe’s two months later. That was in addition to Margaret making a trip in between with another friend of hers and bringing me back two or three more jars. Of course, the last time we went, I stocked up on the Cowboy Caviar.
As much as I love it as a normal dip for any type of corn chip, I also love to top a plain baked chicken breast with it. And, in addition, I have been known to smear a bit of it on a sandwich, or even add a spoonful or two to a side dish to give it just a bit of extra flavour.
Trader Joe’s Cowboy Caviar in the store-bought variety is spicy. I do love a little bit of spice, but not a lot. When I decided that taking trips to the United States to buy salsa was too much of an expense, I decided to make my own version and it would have to be just a little bit less spicy. If you love spicy food and can handle the heat, please, by all means increase the amount of jalapenos to suit your tastes.
Now that I’ve made my own version (and with the exception of less heat, it’s as close to the real stuff as you can possibly get) trips across the border have become less frequent. Um… that’s not really true! I still have not found a suitable substitute for Trader Joe’s marshmallows, tomato paste, or sun dried tomatoes.
You’ve got to try this copycat version of Trader Joe’s Cowboy Caviar, Dear Reader. It’s really, really, really good! (How’s that for descriptive? I’m so glad I spent so much money studying Journalism in college!) And, lastly, if you’re reading this Mr. Joe, please open a location in Toronto. I promise, I’ll spend all of my money there!
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Trader Joe’s Copycat Cowboy Caviar
- 1 tablepoon olive oil
- 1 large red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups corn, frozen or canned (drained)
- 2 cups black beans, canned, rinsed and drained
- 2 whole chipotles in adobo sauce, minced
- 1 cup tomato sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 whole lime, zested and juiced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- In a large sauce pan, add the olive oil and onions. Cook the onions over medium heat until translucent – about 4-5 minutes.
- Add the red bell pepper and cook for another 4-5 minutes.
- Add all of the other ingredients and stir well to combine. Lower the heat to simmer, place a lid on the sauce pan and allow to cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- In the meantime, prepare 8 250 ml jars by washing them thoroughly with hot, soapy water. Be sure to rinse the jars until the soap residue is gone. Set the jars aside. Next, boil a kettle full of water. Place the seals and jar rings into a large bowl. Pour the boiled water over top and let them sit.
- Prepare your canning pot for the water bath method. I use a large stock pot with a round metal cooling rack at the bottom so that the jars do not touch the bottom of the pot. Fill the pot half full with water and bring to full boil.
- Using a ladle, spoon the caviar into the prepared jars. I like to use a metal funnel to avoid any of the caviar coming into contact with the rim of the jar. This will help to create a better and safer seal. Fill the jar so that only 1/2 inch of head space remains. Remove the funnel and place a hot, sterilized seal on the jar. Screw on the lid until just snug. Be careful! The jar will be hot! Use a kitchen towel to hold the jar in place as you screw on the lid.
- Using a jar lifter, place the filled jars into the large pot of boiling water. Bring the pot back to a boil and allow the jarred caviar to remain in the boiling water for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the jars and place on a kitchen towel where they will not be disturbed. As the jars cool, you’ll hear a popping sound. This is the hot liquid and air in the jar cooling down and contracting. This will create an air-tight seal and will allow you to store your relish for future consumption.
- For best results, I recommend allowing the jars to sit undisturbed for at least 12 hours. With a damp cloth, wipe down the jars, re-tighten the lids, and store in a dark, cool place. The caviar will last for 12-18 months. Lastly, if you notice that a jar has not properly sealed, simply refrigerate that particular jar, and consume within the next 5-7 days. To test whether or not the jars are sealed, lightly press down on the seal. If the seal pops downward, the sealing process did not work.
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