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Often referred to as vegetarian caviar, this delicious condiment is common in the Balkan countries in southeast Europe. Known for bountiful pepper harvests, ajvar spread was the local way of using and preserving peppers for the winter.
It starts with a base of roasted peppers skinned and mashed with oil and a few spices. Each country has their own variation, of course. Some add tomatoes, carrots or, like our recipe, eggplant. Seasoning varies and it can be made sweet or spicy as well as chunky or smooth.
Bottom line, there’s no wrong way to make it. Here’s our sweet and smooth version.
- 3 large red bell peppers
- 1 large eggplant
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp vinegar
- 2 tsp salt
- 100 ml vegetable oil
- Cut the red peppers in half and remove the seeds.
- Prick the eggplant with a fork.
- Place both peppers and eggplants on a grill for 15 minutes on each side until charred and soft.
- Place the peppers and eggplants in a separate bowl covered with plastic wrap to cool.
- emove the charred skin from the eggplant and peppers, then place them together with the garlic in a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped /smooth.
- Heat the oil in a large pan and add the mixture.
- Add in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper.
- Cook over low heat for at least 2 hours, stirring occasionally.
- Keep stored in a covered bowl or jar in the fridge. Will last up to a week.
- Ajvar is traditionally made my hand (no food processor!) which yields a chunkier version
- You can replace the bell peppers with spicier red peppers to add some heat.
- Besides using as a spread or dip, try it with grilled meats, as a salad topping or right out of the bowl!