Zucchini Caviar

This Zucchini Caviar is a staple of Russian cuisine; that’s a delicious vegetable spread made of zucchinis, tomatoes, carrots, and other tasty ingredients.

Hello everyone and happy last day of August! It seems like I’ve been complaining about our heat waves all the summer, and here we go. Autumn is around the corner, and we’re heading to the season of tropical rains and hurricanes (Last September hurricane Dorian hit us pretty hard.) But it’s too earlier to talk about autumn, and I am going to continue with my late summer recipes.

I am super excited today to present you this Zucchini Caviar, a staple of Russian, or it would be correct to say, Soviet cuisine. Funny name, isn’t it? I am not sure about the name and background information on this recipe. Truth be told, there’s not much known about it, and while known probably long time before, ‘caviar’ became ubiquitous sometime before or around World War II and particularly gained its popularity during the time of Nikita Chruszczow, the Soviet politician and first secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964. He and especially his wife did like this spread a lot, and he even ordered to build one of the largest canning factories in Europe to produce this spread.

Yup, that’s correct. This ‘caviar’ was one of the most available things in the former Soviet republic. Even though I was just a kid when Mikhail Gorbachev’s Perestroika was happening, I clearly remember the so-called ‘product deficiency’ associated with those economical changes. What did this ‘deficiency’ mean? Well, sometimes literally empty shelves! The list of affected products was endless: meat, fresh fruit, imported products (especially fruit), coffee, butter, chocolate, medicine, tobacco, alcohol, wallpaper, and even toilet paper, and many many other things. At some point, the government would even introduce a coupon system for some products meaning a person or family could get only a limited quantity of one product such as meat or butter per month. The situation could be better or worse depending on your place of living (Moskow and Leningrad, of course, could have better choices than a small town in the north) and your social status – as always, some folks, mostly elite, did have perks and were able to get even red caviar.

Zucchini Caviar? You could always find it on the shelves, even during the Perestroika! I guess it was just a cheap and thus affordable thing to produce.

The interesting fact that it’s almost impossible to fully copycat the taste of the store-bought caviar, even though I tried the last one almost 10 years ago. But I do remember its taste, and I have read many other recipes saying the same thing. It’s not just exactly the same; I guess there’s a secret ingredient or technology. However, my homemade version so much more delicious, in my humble opinion. First, store-bough caviar was usually extremely smooth, like pumpkin pure, but I love to feel more texture and veggies chunks. Secondly, that store-bough caviar would tend to be too thin, like creamy soup, but again I like my spread to have the texture and be rather thick. Lastly, store-bought caviar wasn’t consistently delicious – as it always depends on the recipe. So why risk when you can make you oven Zucchini Caviar according to your preferences, right?

Besides being super delicious, this is a healthier version. While researching, I realized most recipes use tons of oil. Greasy spread? No thanks, 3 or 4 tablespoons of oil would be more than enough if you follow my trick (In the recipe.)

How to describe the taste of Zucchini Caviar? It’s hard. You know that zucchinis don’ have a strong flavour profile, so the taste would be also determined by other components and their proportions. Certainly, zucchinis should be the main component (Shocking, right?), but you can play with the remaining ingredients. It’s also lightly sweet and savoury, with a refreshing vegetable taste; more with a subtle than distinctive profile.

How can you serve it? Plenty of ways! Consider it as a spread for your rustic bread or just a dipping sauce. It goes exceptionally well with the starchy things like rice, and our favourite way is with potatoes (Imagine parboiled or roasted potatoes with dill and this spread!) And personally, I ate half of the dip just straight from the container.

The yield of this Zucchini Caviar is significant (I honestly didn’t count it, but I would say it’s something like 10 cups or so.), so you can cut it in half. But this spread is so delightful that it will disappear in no time!

I hope you like this recipe and give it a try one day. And please get prepared: I am going to share even more delicious Russian spread next week.

Cheers for now.

10 thoughts on “Zucchini Caviar

  1. Neil says:

    Love how you bring us all these delicious staples from Russia. This zucchini caviar looks delicious! I remember seeing all the lines of people outside food shops in Russia on TV pictures years ago when things were scarce there. How interesting that you could still get this zuccini caviar as a canned version though.
    Neil recently posted…Quick Healthy Chicken SaladMy Profile

  2. Ron says:

    Ben, I remember eating something very much like this, maybe the same during a visit to Siberia several years ago. I think it was called ikra. We had it served as a roadside snack with brown Russian bread and coffee and Russian brandy. A memorable time and one I’m glad you have brought to my mind.
    I must make this and enjoy it with a nice brown rye bread and vodka…

  3. Laura says:

    I’ve not heard of Zucchini Caviar but it looks delicious and everything in the recipe so tasty and healthy! Love this idea, Ben! There are so many zucchini around I need to use them, so this is on my list! Thanks for the story, too!

  4. Shashi says:

    My first time hearing of zucchini caviar! In my opinion, It looks and sounds like such a delicious recipe! I’d be tempted to eat it like stew – you think I could leave the sugar out? I’m thinking of making this to take to my mom and she’s diabetic- cannot wait to try this!
    Btw, here in Georgia, the first few weeks after lockdown when so many were hoarding toilet paper, meats and flour, grocery stores looked a little like what you described they did during Perestroika! Crazy!
    Hoping major storms stay away from y’all this year!
    Shashi recently posted…By: ShelleyMy Profile

    • mm
      Ben | Havocinthekitchen says:

      Hi Shashi! Yeach you can absolutely leave the sugar out; it gives some nice subtle sweetness, but it it is not necessary especially if you can find and use nice, juicy, and sweet carrots and tomatoes – they would do the job! Just keep in mind that you might need to adjust salt and vinegar – just play a little; this spread is very forgiving!
      Ben | Havocinthekitchen recently posted…Strawberry Leather (Fruit Roll-Ups)My Profile

  5. David @ Spiced says:

    Interesting! I love the story behind this recipe, Ben. I have to be honest and say that I don’t know anything about Zucchini Caviar. It’s new to me for sure! However, with that said, this sounds quite tasty – and a great way to use up extra late summer zukes!
    David @ Spiced recently posted…Apple StrudelMy Profile

  6. Katerina says:

    I love the name of, and ingredients in, this zucchini caviar, Ben. I am always looking for new and interesting zucchini recipes, as I grow so many zucchini during summer. This looks and sounds super delightful. Thanks so much for sharing!

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