Zucchini spread is a soft and pulpy spread called “ikra” in Russian. It comes together with a melody of fresh vegetables and can be enjoyed as a chunky side dish (salad), spread over bread, or as a dip! We love this vegetable dip hot or cold and it only gets better after sitting!
I love zucchini ikra! Try this tomato and eggplant spread for variation! This zucchini ikra recipe is the perfect way to use up all those garden fresh veggies with little effort and great taste!
What is Zucchini Ikra?
Ikra means “caviar” in Russian. Caviar is a side dish or appetizer most enjoyed with bread and is a big part of Russian cuisine. Like the fish roe topping, Ikra can take on different variations like eggplant ikra, etc. This new form of Ikra includes fresh vegetables like zucchini, sweet bell peppers, carrots, onion, and garlic, which is a way cheaper delicacy than pricey caviar.
That being said, zucchini ikra is cooked down in a skillet. The key to a spreadable consistency is to cook the vegetables in separate batches so that the veggies can roast, and not get soggy. This may not sound that healthy but I use a good amount of oil for sauteing my veggies, later it works for storing zucchini spread in a jar and makes it luscious and spreadable. So, please don’t decrease oil here, but rather use healthier cooking oil.
Now that I’ve explained Ikra, hopefully, you can understand what this vegetable spread is. Furthermore, my recipe is chunky but completely soft and spreadable. Some canned variations of Russian ikra are pureed and smooth so feel free to blend it or leave it as chunky as you’d like.
Storing Zucchini Spread:
Before we jump into the recipe, this is a refrigerated zucchini spread. So once the vegetables are cooked down and seasoned, you’ll want to transfer the mixture to air-tight glass containers or jars and keep them refrigerated. This zucchini spread keeps up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. I like to push down the veggies to keep them under the oil and juices for optimum storage.
This zucchini spread recipe has really simple ingredients but is so addictive and delicious! Use summer squash or eggplants for the zucchini if you really want to give this side dish a try. It’s very versatile so feel free to use different colored sweet peppers or onions.
- Fresh Zucchini- Use 6 small zucchini or 2 extra large ones. Mine weighed a total of 2.68 pounds, so about 2 1/2 pounds of zucchini is what you’ll need.
- Sweet Bell Peppers- preferably red bell peppers for premium flavor and contrast.
- Onion- I diced a medium/large yellow onion.
- Garlic- I crushed the cloves of one head of garlic. This adds tons of savory and aromatic flavor.
- Carrots- peel and grate 4 medium-sized carrots.
- Spices- salt, black pepper, cane sugar, and white distilled vinegar are all you need to flavor this dish.
- Sunflower Oil- is a very mild cooking oil perfect for sauteeing all these veggies.
Optional: I added a teaspoon of finely chopped pickled jalapenos for a hint of heat. This spread will not be spicy if you add this amount of jalapeno peppers (fresh or pickled) it just adds a little extra flavor.
How To Make Zucchini Ikra Spread:
This zucchini Ikra recipe requires lots of chopping so, do yourself a favor and use a vegetable chopper. I used the green attachment for dicing the zucchini and the yellow attachment for dicing the red bell peppers. Use a box grater for the carrots and a sharp knife to finely dice the onion. I like to get my zucchini cooking first and chop the rest while that cooks down.
- Chop all your veggies.
- Preheat a 12-inch pan with oil.
- Saute and cook the zucchini until they have softened (about 25 minutes). I divide the zucchini and oil into two pans so they don’t get soggy. You can simply cook part of the zucchini first using one pan. Transfer cooked zucchini to a bowl.
- In the same pan saute the carrots and onion in more oil until softened (15 minutes). Set aside.
- Fry the red bell peppers in oil for about 15 minutes, add the cooked and reserved veggies with the remaining ingredients (salt, pepper, garlic, oil, vinegar, and jalapenos if using).
- Cook everything for 10 more minutes and remove from the heat.
- Serve mixture warm or cool and store in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Cook’s Tip: sauteed zucchini is one way to cook the veggies. You can also make this a roasted zucchini spread by roasting all the chopped veggies, simply follow the instructions on our roasted vegetables.
Canning Zucchini Spread:
Zucchini spread can be canned using a pressure canner. Place the cooked mixture into sterilized jars and shut them with canning lids. Place into a pressure canner filled with a few inches of water. Pressure can pints at 10 pounds for 75 minutes or quarts at 10 pounds for 90 minutes. Remove and seal each jar shut. These should be shelf stable and ready to go whenever you need it.
Creative Ways To Use Zucchini Ikra:
This Russian zucchini spread is like a savory roasted vegetable spread best enjoyed on a crusty loaf of bread! Here are other ways to serve zucchini spread;
- Place zucchini ikra into a small bowl and dip with crackers. This can make a great addition to a fancy charcuterie board.
- Serve it like a cold pickled salad. It makes a fantastic side dish almost to any meal!
- Make little canape sandwiches using French Baguette slices.
- We spread a thick layer of this chunky sauce over our whole wheat bread and served it alongside Borscht.
- Eat it like salsa with tortilla chips or with naan bread, it makes a great dipping sauce!
Zucchini Spread Recipe (Ikra)
- 1 12-inch fry pan
- 1 vegetable chopper
- 1 cutting board
- 1 sharp knife
- Chop the zucchini and bell peppers. Dice the onion and grate the carrots.
- Heat a 12-inch frying pan with 1/3 cup of oil. Heat another 10-inch pan with 3 Tbsp of oil. Divide and cook the zucchini for 25 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally.
- Transfer the zucchini from the pans to a large bowl and add the carrots and onion to the 12-inch pan with 8 Tbsp of oil. Saute for 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile in the 10-inch pan add 2 Tbsp of oil and the diced bell peppers. Saute for 15 minutes.
- Add the sauteed bell peppers and reserved zucchini to the carrot and onion mixture. Add the remaining ingredients (salt, pepper, sugar, vinegar, crushed garlic, and jalapenos).
- Cook everything for 10 more minutes and then pack it into glass jars. This makes 1 quart and 1 pint of zucchini spread. Enjoy cold or warm.
- **Fresh Jalapenos or any pickled hot pepper that is finely chopped can be used for extra flavor. The zucchini spread will not be spicy.
- The sunflower oil is divided between 4 batches. It also helps with storing the vegetable spread in the fridge.
- This is the vegetable chopper that I used. For the zucchini, use the green attachment, and for the bell peppers use the yellow attachment. I chunk and halve the zucchini and peppers before chopping for easier slicing.
Nutrition per serving