Let Them Eat (Eggplant) Caviar

November 16, 2008



So, you may have heard: the economy is tanking.  According to retailers, we’re spending less on gifts this holiday season than we did last year.  We’re taking vacations at home.  We’re economising on everything from groceries to toiletries, and people are learning how to darn socks again, bake from scratch again, or wash their own cars.  Everybody’s worried about finances or being laid off. What to do?

Eat caviar, I say!

Okay, not really.  That would just be silly (and totally uneconcomical).  Not to mention slightly gooey, a bit slimy, way too salty, and overall, yucky.  Of course you shouldn’t eat real caviar. 

I’m talking about eggplant caviar!  I first enountered a recipe for this economical dip many years ago in one of The CFO’s Bon Appetit magazines, and was intrigued as soon as I scanned the ingredient list. Then, once I finally I tasted it, I was totally enchanted.  The blend of piquant balsamic with the moist, slightly chunky eggplant and sweet pepper was remarkably delicious.  I ended up eating half of that first batch straight off a spoon, crackers be damned!  (Well, since I was emulating a rich person by eating “caviar,” I figured I could be as eccentric as I wished).

This recipe is adapted from both this one and this, and I added another twist by tossing in some chopped olives (the salty, black chunks were the only similarity to actual caviar in the entire dish).  Have this on crackers, or spooned along the crease of a celery stalk.  I haven’t tried it yet, but I bet it would even be great tossed with freshly cooked penne. 

I made this last week, using two eggplants I bought in the “gently damaged” shelf of the produce section at our local supermarket (ie, the half price shelf).  It was a great way to feel both frugal and rich–all at the same time. Now I must get to work on those holes in my socks.

(“Mum, we wouldn’t mind eating real caviar! Um, and just for the record, what’s wrong with gooey and slimy?”)

I’m also contributing this to Suganya’s “Vegan Ventures, Round 2” event, requesting a favorite vegan recipe.  How could I not submit this–I mean, it’s caviar, right?

Eggplant Caviar



Actually, I could never really understand why they called this “caviar,”  as, to my mind, it neither resembles nor tastes like its namesake.  In any case, though, it’s a wonderful and tasty dip or spread, and economical, too.



24 Responses to “Let Them Eat (Eggplant) Caviar”

  1. Jes Says:

    Strange! It looks great, but definitely not like caviar. Good holiday dip idea though!

  2. shellyfish Says:

    Yummy! Don’t really get the caviar part of the name – maybe it’s to make people feel like it’s special and rare or something? Why anyone would eat fish eggs is beyond me…eggplants on the other hand – LOVE EM!
    Thanks for all the blog love, Ricki. Tu es une vraie amie!

  3. Shelby Says:

    Mmm, I love eggplant! I was just going to buy some but I didn’t have a recipe…dang now I will have to go bsck!

  4. ttfn300 Says:

    love the half price shelf!! this looks great, i was thinking of doing something similar with some leftover eggplant and roasted red pepper 🙂

  5. lindsay Says:

    that sounds yummy.

    p.s. your package should be arriving sometime this week.

    -linday and neil

  6. Kiersten Says:

    I would have eaten all of it by myself too. Anything with eggplant and olives is okay in my book!

  7. Mmmm I have a recipe very similar to this. Thanks for reminding me I need to make it again; it’s been too long.

  8. BitterSweet Says:

    I can’t say “caviar” was the first thing that came to mind when I saw this, but it definitely looks good no matter what you call it!

  9. Joanna Says:

    just call it caviar for the hell of it!!! that dish kind of reminds me of a rataouille (i have no clue how to spell that). i love eggplants. my mom planted them in our garden this year and they just would NOT stop growing. we had to give them to people because we just couldn’t stomach that many haha

  10. Vegyogini Says:

    I’ve always been intrigued by eggplant caviar, but have never tried it. The name is baffling! I think I’ll give this recipe a try next time I have eggplant to use. Thanks!

  11. Vegan_Noodle Says:

    The perfect alternative to caviar says I (even though I’ve never had the stuff…. but I did try a vegan version and I know for sure that yours must taste so so much better!)

  12. Lucy Says:

    Yep. Nothin’ wrong with gooey and slimey according my Poppy either.

    Ya know, the new camera? Working a TREAT, I tell you. Beautiful and seductive images.

  13. Awesome! I can definitely picture this deliciousness tossed with some penne. I’m with Lucy, your new camera takes GORGEOUS pictures!

  14. I tried the “caviar” tonight. Unfortunately, I burned the bloody hell out of the eggplant, but I still scraped some meat off those buggers. I like it.

  15. Mmmm, eggplant – looks yummy!

  16. Johanna Says:

    always good to hear some eggplant praising – it gets too much bad press from E which just means it doesn’t feature much in my cooking – but this looks good – and I like the ‘gently damaged’ section of your store – sounds almost like care was taken in damaging them 🙂

  17. Sue Says:

    Sounds delicious Ricki, something like a ratatouille dip, maybe.

    All this talk of stay-at-home-hols and make-do-and-mend makes me chuckle as it’s pretty much what I’ve been practising the last twenty-odd years!

  18. mihl Says:

    This looks absolutely delicious!

  19. Andrea Says:

    I agree there’s something fishy about the name, but I’ve always loved eggplant caviar — and Texas caviar, which is made with black-eyed peas. Whatever you call it, your recipe looks delish.

  20. Diann Says:

    Oh, it looks sooooo good! I’m still learning to love eggplant. I think I could like this totally melted caviar version.

  21. melody Says:

    Yum! Eggplant is soooooo amazing… and versatile.. I love this..

  22. giz Says:

    Ricki – what a great dip. I especially like the “emulating a rich person” analogy – perfect. All this time I’ve been buying lottery tickets and all I had to do was make eggplant caviar (smacking head) – I should have had a V8

  23. Kostas Says:

    This is a Russian dish. The reason why we (and now the rest of the world) call it “eggplant caviar” is because the word “ikra” (pronounced [EEKRAH]. not [AYKRAE] is used in Russian language to describe not only sturgeon eggs (we call it Black Ikra), but also salmon eggs (Red Ikra), and also other dishes that are similar in consistency (we have dishes from finely chopped onions, those are called “Onion Ikra”, finely mashed eggplants and other ingredients (Eggplant Ikra), finely mashed squashes (Squash Ikra)). Basically, all these dishes are kind of “spready” and in consistency somewhere between liquid (like soup) and hard (like chunks of beef) food.

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