Eggplant Caviar – Luxury in a Spoon [updated]

My love for eggplant is fierce, pure and, according to many, abnormal. I do not understand. At its best, this gorgeous nightshade is nothing more than edible silk – what’s not to love about it?

A lot, I was told. Set aside in a frisbee-sized diner in a batter of eggplant and parmesan, covered in unbearably bitter portions for life, most people strongly oppose eggplant. To make matters worse, most eggplant recipes are not exactly enjoyable: An extra hour of salting, rinsing, draining and squeezing before you can even cook these damn dishes is enough to send any sane person elsewhere.

I like to think that if everyone tasted eggplant for the first time in the form of eggplant caviar – the Russian style of eggplant caviar , where it originated from – more people would feel the same as me. This is how eggplants should be: fried whole until tender, then slowly stewed in olive oil with chopped onions, bell peppers, tomatoes, honey and an unholy amount of garlic. The result is a spicy-sweet, deliciously rich spread that’s hard not to spoon straight out of the pan. This is by no means a quick recipe, but you don’t need to babysit the eggplant. If you can cut the onion into cubes, you can make eggplant caviar.

Traditionally, eggplant caviar is served on toast or crackers as part of a snack , but like any other condiment, there isn’t much to tell. Sandwiches and scrambled eggs are obvious pairings, but try them with grilled meats, fried vegetables, hot buttered rice, or as a base for pasta salads without mayonnaise. For me, though, a tomato-stewed eggplant with garlic requires potatoes – fried, if at all possible. Since eggplant caviar is not what you would call photogenic, I cooked up some super crispy fried potatoes, put the warmed caviar on top, and added mayonnaise and a crispy egg for the next patatas bravas situation. It was as delicious as it sounds, and also pleasing to the eye.

Eggplant villains have probably skirted the recipe by now, but if you’re on the fence, keep this in mind: all of the essential ingredients are either peaking right now or out of season, so eggplant caviar is a great way to wipe out a mountain of late summer food. Plus, it’s easier, tastier, and more versatile than ratatouille.

Eggplant caviar

As written, this should yield about three cups, but the amount is more a guess than a rule; use whatever you have and spice up the whole mess to taste. Any add-ons will hang very well (or may) (see below for an update). From start to finish it will take about three hours, but for the most part it happens automatically.


  • 2 lb eggplant (two medium ones will do)
  • Up to a glass of olive oil
  • 2 medium yellow onions, finely chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 large tomatoes, finely chopped (or 28 oz can of diced tomatoes, drained)
  • 1-2 teaspoons of honey
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon
  • (Optional) Cayenne or other ground hot peppers, to taste
  • Salt and pepper for flavor


Preheat oven to 400ºF. Place whole eggplants on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil, transfer to oven and bake until soft. Check them out in 30 minutes to see how things are going; Depending on the size and quantity of eggplant you are using, this step will take 40 to 90 minutes. (Alternatively, heat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat and grill the eggplant whole until tender.)

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large wide skillet with a lid over medium to low heat. You just need enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan, which was only a quarter cup for me. Add the onion and a large pinch of salt and cook for 15-20 minutes, until very tender. Add pepper and garlic and cook for another 15-20 minutes, stirring only as needed. (If the onion and pepper mixture is cooked earlier than the eggplant, that’s okay – just turn off the heat and let the pan sit until you’re ready to continue.)

When the eggplants are very soft, transfer them to a bowl or plate to cool. When you can handle them safely, slice the eggplants lengthwise and pour every last bite of cooked pulp into the skillet with the onion and pepper mixture. Add the tomatoes, honey and an even larger pinch of salt and bring the mixture to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover skillet and simmer for an hour.

At this stage, the eggplant caviar will be soft and easy to spread, but it will be quite watery. Remove the lid, increase the heat, and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated. This will take 20 to 30 minutes; stay close and stir frequently to avoid scorching the bottom.

You should now have a skillet full of thick, velvety eggplant caviar, reminiscent of a stew. Add lemon zest and juice, then taste and add more salt and honey if necessary (I find more of both is usually needed) and as much ground hot pepper as you like. It’s a seasoning, so season it accordingly: it should be mostly rich and sweet, but with a lot of salt and acidity to balance.

Cool the caviar to room temperature before placing it in a storage container. Mass-produced eggplant caviar is sold in glass jars, so this product is a great candidate for canning, but (for updated information, see below) it will keep in the freezer indefinitely, but if you store it in the refrigerator, try to eat it for a long time. month. I know, I know, this is a big problem, but I believe in you.

Updated 09/18/2018 1:34 PM: Eggplant caviar is not acidic enough to be safe to drink at home. For long-term storage, freeze in a suitable container.


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