Thursday, August 2, 2012

Zucchini Ikra

Blog's Category: My Staple Food, USSR-era Recipes
In Ukraine, it's actually called "Kabachkovaya Ikra". I'm presenting it here as Zucchini Ikra, although, equally it can be called Zucchini Ragu, Zucchini Ratatouille, and so on, you've got the idea, right?
With minor modifications, often depending on the content of my fridge, I cook this vegetable ragu often. It is always flavorful and satisfies that occational craving for cooked vegetables meal. The main trick here is adding sweet and sour elements which will play the major role here in creating the taste. Sweet elements would be carrot, sugar, etc. Sour elements can be tomatoes, sometimes vinegar or lemons, tamarind (if you are into Indian cuisine right now).
This time I cooked this dish just because I had zucchini and I was in a need to cook something that would go nicely with cornmeal bread I just have baked.

- If you do not have fresh tomatoes, take the canned one. If you are out of that one too, just add few, two or three, tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice and you will get that sour component of the dish.
- Though fresh parsley is the best in here, add dry one instead if you don't want to make a trip to a store just to get fresh parsley. Oh, yeaa, use any other herb you love :)
- Sometimes, instead or in addition to zucchini, I use eggplant or summer squash.
- Interestingly, but changing the way you slice your vegetables (size, shape), you can totally change the dish. Many years ago I remember making Zucchini Ikra with zucchini, onion and carrot not sliced but ground on a meat grinder machine. For some reason I'm not up for making it these days. But it was good, really good Ikra, smooth in a texture and tasty.

Taste Description
Vegetables are cooked completely in this dish, so they are smooth and buttery in a texture. Soft sweet-and-sour notes on a vegetable aroma background create delicious harmony for your taste buds. 

How to Serve
There is various ways to serve it. First of all - it can be served hot, warm or cold, out from a fridge - it will be delicious any way.
Casually, I spoon it on a top (or side to side) of my starchy sides such as potato mash, Buckwheat Kasha, or cooked pasta. As a quick snack, I spoon it on a piece of country bread - it is my favorite way to eat it!

Zucchini Ikra

3 zucchini, sliced in 1/8" quarter-circles
3 carrots, sliced in 1/8" half-circles
1 large onion, chopped
3 ripe tomatoes (or 1 can of tomatoes), processed/blended
2 tbs sugar
1 bunch of fresh parsley, chopped
generous amount of freshly ground black pepper or 2 tsp sabji masala (Indian spice mix for vegetables)
5 tbs olive oil

- In a frying pan with olive oil, cook onions until soft.

- Add carrots and cook stirring for about 5-10 minutes.

- Add zucchini and continue to cook stirring for about 10-20 minutes or until carrots and zucchini are soft.

- In a blender or processor (I use my handheld immersion blender), finely chop tomatoes and add it to the pan. Stir and continue to cook.

- Add salt, pepper and sugar. Stir. Cook until tomato juices evaporate. Adjust seasoning. At the very end, add parsley, stir once or twice and take off the heat.

- Enjoy!


These are not tomatoes I used in the recipe... These are from our garden, we eat them as is and right away. That's when word "fruit" is totally fit to tomato. These tomatoes still keep sun warmth, incredible aroma of its greenery, and juices that seem to be still moving through the flesh. My favorite are yellow cherry tomato on a background, they burst in your mouth as a little sweet granades of joy.

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