Serious Eats: Recipes

French in a Flash (Holiday): Red Pepper Caviar in Chilled Artichokes

[Photographs: Kerry Saretsky]

I know food should be about flavor and not about color, but since you eat with your eyes first, I tend to a get more colorful with my themed food around the holidays. This appetizer is red and green, but it's also elegant and refined—perfect for the holidays.

Vegetable caviar is not what it sounds like: no fish eggs here. It's a kind of deeply flavored spread or dip made from the softened flesh of vegetables, usually nightshades. I most commonly pick up a tub of caviar d'aubergines (eggplant caviar) at the Monoprix in Paris and eat it with a baguette in the park. But two summers ago when passing through Antibes, I had a sweet red pepper version stuffed into mushroom caps, served with champagne. It's colorful, garlicky, sweet, and a touch spicy.

For this festive appetizer I hollow the chokes out of chilled artichokes and fill them with caviar de poivrons (red bell pepper caviar) zested up with lemon, garlic, and piment d'espelette. The artichoke makes a natural bowl to hold the dip as you pluck leaves from around the heart and dunk them, along with some crusty baguette, into the center. It's an easy appetizer with a great presentation that can be made ahead. What could be better for a holiday dinner?

About the author: Kerry Saretsky is the creator of French Revolution Food, where she reinvents her family's classic French recipes in a fresh, chic, modern way. She also writes the The Secret Ingredient series for Serious Eats.

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