We usually turn to Scandinavians for minimalistic interior inspiration, but it wasn't until a recent trip to Sweden that I realized that they're master entertainers and foodies, too. During a traditional midsummer feast, a celebration that marks the summer solstice, IKEA's U.S. design spokesperson, Janice Simonsen, let me in on one of the company's most underrated products: vegan caviar.
It might sound strange, but since her tip-off, it's become the one item I buy every time I visit IKEA, and it's the dish guests always comment on without fail. If you're wondering what vegan caviar is, Simonsen explains. "Kelp seaweed is harvested from the sea bed, then it's ingeniously made into 'pearls' with a fresh taste of sea and saltiness." The red beads look as luxe as caviar, and they have the same juicy burst of flavor, without the price tag—they're only $3.49 a jar.
According to Peter Ho, head of food-product development, it's also good for you (and the environment). "The seaweed pearls are low in cholesterol, low in sodium, vegan, use natural ingredients for coloring, [plus] they're more sustainable than caviar," he explains.
While I tend to serve the orange beads in a dish with crackers instead of a cheese platter, there are a ton of smart ways to use caviar to up your entertaining game. "My personal favorites include using them as a topping on deviled eggs, as well as on Rösti (potato pancakes) with crème fraîche," says Ho. "You can also serve them as salad or sandwich decoration, mixed into dips and toppings, or heated in hot sauces," suggests Simonsen.
I'm convinced: Vegan caviar might be IKEA's best-kept secret.
Have you found another great under-the-radar IKEA product? Share your recommendations with us below.