Zucchini Caviar from Beyond the Sea

Tzar Ivan the Terrible was a cruel tyrant. Everybody knows that. And just like many things that “everybody knows” and thus nobody questions, the sobriquet “Terrible” should be taken with a grain of salt. Since we are in the middle of Pesach (Passover), I recommend Kosher for Passover Red Sea Salt.

Ilya Yefimovich Repin (1844 - 1930)  Ivan the Terrible and His Son Ivan on November 16th, 1581  Oil on canvas, 1885  199.5 × 254 cm (78.54 × 100 in)  State Tretyakov Gallery, Moscow,  Russia

True, he did accidentally kill his son Ivan Ivanovich, but the kid had the temerity to argue with dad! You gotta have respect for your elders! However, look at the other European monarchs, his contemporaries: Henry VIII used to chop off his wives’ heads left and right, presumably considering it much cheaper than suing for divorce (I know, the Pope wouldn’t grant him a divorce, so he eventually became his own Pope – the original DIY guy). Catherine de Medici killed close to 30,000 Huguenots during the Night of St Bartholomew, and that was no accident!

Fast forward four hundred years: in the mid-1970’s, one of the prominent Russian film directors Leonid Gaidai produced a movie “Ivan Vasilyevich Changes Professions” based on a story by Michail Bulgakov. If you want an hour and a half of non-stop laughs, watch this brilliant satire on Soviet reality where a petty tyrant cum apartment manager accidentally changes places with Ivan the Terrible. The great Bulgakov, with his genius, doesn’t only hint at Stalin, especially with the banquet scene (Stalin’s banquets at which he humiliated people by forcing them to dance and make fools of themselves were infamous). He raises a deeper issue: a bully is a bully, whether he is a humble Soviet apartment manager or a powerful monarch, with the only difference that a bully of a monarch would be called a tyrant.

Но-но-но! Челoвек! Челoвек! Официант! Пoчки один раз царице.

This is the banquet scene from the film where the Tzar and his guests are served “red caviar, black caviar, and the caviar from beyond the sea… eggplant.” The movie is chock-full of hilarious lines, but “the caviar from beyond the sea” is probably the best known. If you stop and think, however, you’ll realize that real caviar, both red (salmon roe) and black (beluga or other sturgeon fish) were so plentiful in Russia in 15th – 16th centuries, that cheap taverns used to serve them in huge bowls, to be eaten by spoonfuls. Eggplant, though, was exotic and very pricey, to be found rarely even on a royal table. However, if you again stop and think, and perhaps consult a map, you’ll see that eggplant, coming from India, has traveled quite a distance, but definitely not “from beyond the sea.” Anyway, I’ve already posted a recipe for Eggplant Caviar (please click here), so I am taking an artistic liberty to bring to your attention a vegetable which is actually a fruit and which, in those times, truly came “from beyond the sea” – all the way from Mexico.

zucav 1.jpg

Zucchini Caviar was considered even more of a delicacy than the eggplant one, possibly because it really took some finesse to get it just right. There are many variations of it, but you know how everybody’s grandmother had the best recipe, and mine certainly did! It includes zucchini, carrots, sweet red pepper, onion and garlic, and lots of cilantro. I don’t use tomato paste (you’ll see it in some recipes), but I throw in bits of grape tomatoes, mainly for decoration purposes.

zucav 2

First you dice some onion and garlic and saute until soft and translucent. I prefer to use a kazan which is a cast iron pot with a rounded bottom, perfect for sauteing as it distributes the temperature more evenly. I have heard a theory recently that after WWII, Russians started using the round German helmets for cooking pots. The truth, however, is much more interesting and quite romantic. The city of Kazan, today the capital of Tatar Autonomous Republic and one of the five largest cities in the Russian Federation, was founded in the Middle Ages and got its name…  from this cooking pot! According to the legend, a Tatar princess Soyembika dropped a golden kazan into the river, and the city was founded on that spot.

In a famous battle, Ivan the Terrible conquered Kazan and made it a part of Russia (painting by P. Korovin).  His cooks, apparently,  discovered the round pot and made it a part of traditional Russian cooking equipment. No Russian kitchen is complete without an assortment of different sizes of kazans.

zucav 3

Meanwhile, while your onions and garlic are sauteing, you can grate zucchini and carrot and dice pepper. Dicing zucchini will give you more texture, and grating it finely will produce a creamy mass. I prefer the golden middle, even though I don’t have a golden kazan. Throw all these grated and diced veggies into the pot and cover it firmly. In a few minutes, zucchini will produce out its own liquid.

zucav 4.jpg

Now is the time to add salt and pepper (I actually use allspice, but I am sure they didn’t have it in 16th century). Wine is optional but it does enhance the flavor.  Mix it all up, reduce the heat, and saute for about 30 minutes, or until the veggies blend nicely but the texture is still visible.  Meanwhile, you can listen to the original Bobby Darin recording of “Beyond the Sea.”

I like to use little yellow grape tomatoes, but they were nowhere to be found, so in a pinch,  I diced the red ones and added them to the “caviar” when it was almost ready. You want those little tomato pieces to soften just a bit but not disintegrate!

zucav 5

Do you think Ivan the Terrible would’ve enjoyed this dish? They say he had, well, terrible eating habits, gorging himself on whatever was put in front of him without stopping to savor the taste. But who cares; the caviar “from beyond the sea” has graced my Pesach table, and I hope it will enhance yours!

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 large or two small zucchini (courgettes), grated
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1/2 sweet red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 3 – 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • A handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 5 – 6 grape tomatoes, diced
  • Salt and allspice to taste
  • 1/4 cup light sweet wine (optional)

PROCEDURE

  • Saute diced onion and garlic until translucent. Add zucchini, carrot, and pepper. Close lid firmly until more liquid appears (about 5 minutes).
  • Season with salt and allspice, add wine and cilantro. Stir, reduce heat, saute for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • When almost ready, add tomatoes.
  • Serve cold.

Enjoy!

61 Comments Add yours

  1. A_Boleyn says:

    I enjoyed your Ivan the Terrible story. As to the caviar … I’ll stick to the kind/s that come from fish. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I would too, but we can’t have it on Passover (it’s over, thank G-d!), and I love all veggies, especially prepared the Odessa way. Thank you for your kind comment, dear friend!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Love your presentation–Blessings!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Valerie – blessings right back to you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks Kosher! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  3. That sounds delightful! And Ivan might have behaved better and enjoyed life more if he’d slowed down to savor his meals.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ah, dear Mimi, he was the original special needs child, suffering from either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder – who can say now? Thank you for a lovely comment, darling!

      Like

  4. I love the stories that accompany your recipes.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Marie; I am glad you enjoy my posts!

      Like

  5. An excellent treatise on tyranny to accompany an appetising dish; one of the great songs on video, but the film was not available.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment, Derrick. In order to watch the film, you have to click on “Watch on Youtube” line under the “Video not available.” I did it, and it opened right away.
      The treatise is not mine, but Bulgakov’s; he is known for having written “the Russian novel of the 20th century, “Master and Margarita” (I highly recommend the Pevear and Volokhonsky translation, as the closest to original flavour), but his short stories and, of course, his other novels, are on the same level of a tragicomic literary genius. Films are excellent, but his books are simply superb.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks very much, Dolly. It worked. I’ll watch it later

        Liked by 1 person

      2. My pleasure – enjoy!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Love such vegetable dishes. Looks very tasty! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Ronit! I really feel sorry for those who do not use garlic on Pesach, since most of my dishes would be tasteless without it.

      Like

  7. ilonapulianauskaite says:

    Looks tasty like always❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Ilona!

      Like

  8. Caviar and Cavaliers… I am thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s cute – thanks you, darling!

      Like

  9. What a story! For us in Germany Tzar Ivan was the worst russian guy, but as you mentioned other European states had their duplicates. Thank you for another great history lesson around a wonderful recipe. Best wishes, Michael

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for a wonderful comment, Michael! Have a great weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you too, Dolly! For always wonderful recipes, and fantastic historical information. Have a nice weekend too. Michael 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  10. purpleslob says:

    Your stories are always as excellent as your recipes! You are a true oral historian/cook. The perfect Russian mix!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear purple person! I am just having fun in my own funky way.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. purpleslob says:

        And it’s fun for us too!

        Liked by 1 person

  11. Your posts are good for the stomach, the head, and the heart, Dolly! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you so much, dear Anna; you are too sweet!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Very interesting! I’ll have to try that recipe. Every summer we are overloaded with zucchini, and it’s always a challenge to figure out with to do with it all. Believe it or not, there’s a limit to how much zucchini bread you can eat!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I have a whole four-part set of zoodles recipes, starting with this one: https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2017/08/07/all-you-need-is-love-zoodles-part-1/ (please disregard the video that is not available; it’s the same Beatles song, but somehow I wasn’t able to remove it). We love zucchini, and I have tons of recipes – just ask!

      Like

  13. I know you can’t eat crab cakes, but grated zucchini makes a good substitute. Salt it slightly and left it drain, they squeeze out most of the moisture. Add bread crumbs, Old Bay seasoning, etc., shape into patties, and fry. Allrecipes.com has several crab cake recipes and any one of them would work. My nephew suggested jackfruit instead of zucchini; I’ve never heard of it, never mind tasted it, but he assures me it’s very good.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for a great recipe, dear friend. I will definitely make these!
      I thank you also for your sensitivity to Kosher rules. I do, however, have a recipe for fake crab cakes https://koolkosherkitchen.wordpress.com/2016/08/24/crabless-crab-cakes/
      My husband and our guests love these.

      Like

      1. Those sound GOOD! This is fresh corn season, so I’m going to give it a try. I had a spell for about ten years where I was allergic to shellfish, so I learned a couple of tricks. Over the years my body changed, and now I can eat shellfish, but some of it is so expensive I’ll just stick with my zucchini burgers!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t know the taste of shellfish, so zucchini burgers sound great!

        Like

  14. Почему вы свои рецепты не дублируете на русском… Просто выглядит все так аппетитно. А я нихт ферштейн)) понимаю что ради одного меня утруждаться это не дело, поэтому это чисто риторический вопрос))

    Like

    1. Я свою лень (нехватку времени, по научному) оправдываю тем, что кому интересно, тот нажмет на кнопку, и Мистер Гугл все переведет. Я же это делаю с рецептами разных стран.

      Like

      1. Ну на сайте такой кнопки нет или она не работает у меня. А копировать и вставлять в Гугл переводчик… Тут уже моя лень противится.
        Я ж говорю, чисто риторический вопрос

        Liked by 1 person

      2. А если нажать на правую кнопку мыши? Я так делаю, и выскакивает “translate”, дальше нажимаю туда, и все дела. И это я – техно-идиотка. А тебе, технарю, должно быть раз плюнуть.

        Like

      3. Я через приложение сижу, а не сайт

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Это что за зверь – приложение?

        Like

      5. Ну такой милый пушистик. Трафика меньше жрет. Чаще доступ есть. Меньше глюков. Но с переводом проблемы..

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Ага. Придется все-таки у сына проконсультироваться.

        Like

      7. Ага. Только приложение, внезапно, поддерживает минимум функций

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Когда со мной говорят по-китайски, я плавно перевожу стрелки на старшего сына, который курирует славянский отдел машинных переводов. Говорю же – полная техно-идиотка. Функции-шмункции..

        Like

      9. А сына переводящего на русский нет случайно. А то я ленивый лингво идиот)) а ваши рецепты бы почитал

        Liked by 1 person

      10. Спасибо за интерес, Мишенька! Видишь ли, Google Translate – это один из проектов компании, где мой сын работает, как и Adobe Translate. Так что, да, 25 лет тому назад он еще сам занимался переводами туда и обратно, включая литературные, но сегодня уже сидит наверху (в переносном смысле – сидит-то он дома в Бостоне) и разъезжает по конференциям. Ладно, скажи, что тебе интересно, я улучу момент и сама переведу.

        Like

      11. Ну мне рецепты интересны в первую очередь. Но так я бы и все остальное почитал. Но вообще, ради меня не напрягайся. Даже не думай. Это было риторическое эх…
        Так-то список ингредиентов я понимаю, а вот дальше темный лес))

        Liked by 1 person

      12. Так, у меня там почти 500 рецептов. Каждый пост включает в себя рецепт. Тебе каких: сладких, овощных, мясных, Индийских, Итальянских, Китайских, Кубинских?

        Like

      13. Потому я и говорю, не парься))

        Liked by 1 person

      14. Будем посмотреть, как говорят в Одессе. Все, иду на кухню.

        Like

      15. Будем посмотреть.. я так говорю получение лет 28)) но я не одессит… Ну ладно, последние лет 15, если честно

        Liked by 1 person

      16. Говорят, что наши выражения заразны. Правда, некоторые говорят что мы вообще – заразы.

        Like

      17. Ага. Жизнь это болезнь, которая передается половым путем))

        Liked by 1 person

      18. Старо, но верно.

        Like

      19. Да к тому же переводил я тут недавно с английского на русский. Воспользовался Гуглом. В общем он технический знает на том же уровне что и я))

        Liked by 1 person

      20. Технический – не ко мне. С рецептами справляется, даже с Индийскими и Китайскими.

        Like

    1. Thank you so much for linking, Ted! I hope you had a nice celebration yesterday.

      Like

  15. Combination of zucchini with your other ingredients created such a tasty meal.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much, dear Rozina.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s