Sunday, February 12, 2012

Squash Caviar

I am so proud of this picture! Never mind that I had to take  a hundred shots for just this one... :)

Without any more delays here is a photo recipe for "Squash name the dish" from the Weekend in Photos. Some people call it spread, some - dip, and in our family it was always called Squash Caviar. 
We actually grew up on it. My mother would make a big cast iron Dutch oven a couple times a week. At age 7-8 my job was to wash the squash, peel the carrots. At the age of 10 my mother taught me how to use a  knife and I was promoted to a sous chef, while my brother was washing and peeling. 
But the real job I wanted to do was to stand by the stove and stir the pot with a big wooden spoon, almost a size of me then.  
I tried to sneak a big spoon a few times, but was always stopped by watchful mother before I even got close to that huge hot pot. 
Then my  brother and I would spread some of the warm squash caviar on a piece of a rye bread, previously rubbed with a fresh garlic (can you smell it?!), and would take off to play another wild game outside.
Years later, on one of my summer visits, mom was making the squash caviar, and I was helping her. This time I was allowed to stir the pot. When I took the wooden spoon, I smiled: it wasn't that big at all. Maybe a little longer than a regular wooden spoon in my kitchen.  Warm memories filled my heart that moment.

Summer Squash Caviar (Spread or Dip)


  • 5 summer squashes (zucchini would work too), cut in 2" pieces
  • 2-3 carrots, shredded
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1,5 cup tomato sauce (crashed tomatoes, or even fresh tomatoes)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil 
  • 2-3 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp dry dill
  • 1 tsp sugar (I use evaporated cane juice)
  • one Bay leave
  • salt and pepper to taste

Wash, peel (if skin it tough), and cut the squash. Sprinkle a little salt, mix it with your hands, set aside.
Peel the carrots, shred it.
Chop the onions.
Heat the olive oil in a deep cast iron dutch oven (or stainless still) until oil just starts to bubble. Reduce heat to a medium-high and add the chopped onions. Season with a little salt to bring up all the flavors, and cook 2-3 min, stirring. 

Do not leave the kitchen, onions can burn very quickly!
Add carrots, and stir again. Cook it another 2-3 min.

By this time the squash has released  some juice. 

See that water in there? It's the squash juice.
Gently squeeze the squash to remove even more liquid from it, and add it to the pan. Stir.
Add crashed tomatoes and sugar, and thoroughly stir until all the ingredients are mixed well. 

Reduce heat to a medium, cover the pot with a lid, leaving a crack for a steam to exit.
Set the timer for 35 minutes, and stir 3-4 times during the cooking to prevent sticking, as you know.
Add a Bay leave, dry dill, mix well, taste. 
Adjust seasoning by adding salt and pepper. 
Cook for another 3-4 minutes, and turn it off. 
Add minced garlic, mix, and serve with fresh herbs of your choice. 
Dill is always mine.

Can you smell this bouquet of garlic, dill, and vegetables?!


Squash Caviar is great warm as a main meal (in our family), or cold as a dip, or spread. 
It can be refrigerated for up to 48 hours (never happens in our family).
During a squash season in the summer this same recipe is used for preserving (I plan to post preserving steps later this year).
Squash Caviar freezes well, just cool it down in refrigerator, place in freezer safe containers, leaving some room (about one inch from the top).

So, what would you name it? 
Spread? Caviar? Dip? Or any other name?

Until next time,
Cowboy Country Vegetarian


  1. The first pic is completely drool worthy, totally worth all your hard work...I like your last pic too...the green looks so vivid against the yellow :-)
    I like to call it spread :-)

  2. SO Pleased you found me as I have now found you! This recipe looks amazing and I know my parents and sister would love it, as they are vegetarians!
    Karen @ Lavender and Lovage

    1. Thank you Karen. This dish can be served as a side with any meat when it's warm. My kids and husband are not vegetarians, and this dish is a part of a meal when I make meat for them.

  3. Lovely dish. The presentation is also excellent. I am sure you mum would be very proud of you!

  4. I name it Caviar! The first picture is outstanding :)

    1. Thank you Liza! I think you would like the meal from that picture too. :)

  5. Wow - this looks incredible! I think you should just call it "Good"

  6. It looks so yummy! Caviar will always be the best name if you grew up with it, words when accompanied by experience have a special magic no other word will give you... The photo looks amazing, pinning!

  7. That opening picture looks so welcoming and delicious! :D

  8. It looks great! Name is not important, I'm sure is delicious anyway! :)

    1. Thank you Danutza, It is delicious, yes. I think food you grew up with is always delicious.

  9. Your picture is mouthwatering! I have no idea what name is appropriate for this beautiful dish, but the name is irrelevant, what really matters is the warm feeling it reflects! It looks delicious!

    1. Thanks Katerina. I totally agree with you, and this dish brings up so many warm feelings!

  10. This recipe looks wonderfully healthy. I find we eat to much meat, so I ma joing you to add more of the Good Stuff y to our meal Thank you for your visit.

    1. Thanks Rita. I started this blog with the same idea in mind: to add healthy options to the dinner table. Although I cook meat about once a week for my husband and son, plants dominate on our plates.

  11. You know I'd much rather have that kind of caviar than fish eggs....maybe that doesn't say much for me as a foodie, but there it is. This sounds like such a delicious dish. I'd probably throw some heat into it, too.

    1. Thank you Kristen. Yes, heat is optional, as many other additions to the recipe. It is very basic, and an old one. I often modify it to what I have in the fridge. I posted the original, mother's version to preserve it for my kids.
      I don't care for meat, but fish I still eat from time to time, and I love fish caviar too.

  12. How interesting. I've seen this made with eggplant but never with squash. We're not big eggplant fans, but know we would love this. Thanks for the idea.

  13. Thank you Sam. Yes, we make it with eggplants too. Sometimes combination eggplants/squash. From what I remember, summer squash ripened all in a very short time. We had boxes of it during June and July, and mother never wasted any: all was processed and either eaten by us, or preserved for a later use.

  14. It's a little bit like Ratatouille, isn't it? But I reckon you should stick to calling it Squash Caviar, purely for historical reasons. If that's what your Mum (and Grandma?) called it, why would you want to re-name it? Family food traditions are an important bond with our past.

    1. It is simpler that Ratatouille, less ingredients and a bit different preparation. Thank you for your comment on this subject. I am not going to re-name it, after all. I will put in parenthesis a little explanation. Thanks again!

  15. Marina que rico tiene que estar, viendo la receta.

    Un saludo desde Andalucía (España)

  16. this looks so good and beautiful picture


Your warm comments put a smile on my heart.