Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant Relish(Ajvar)

Ajvar is a treasure of the Balkans, the pepper and eggplant caviar of the Balkans. It’s part of the cuisines of Bosnia, Serbia, North Macedonia, Romania and Bulgaria. For those who like to let their mind wander, for those who like to experiment, for those who fantasize about visiting those beautiful countries and get close to their traditions, here is the starting point with this recipe.

I grew up with this kind of food, and let me tell you something: “it so delicious”. This is not just an appetizer or a side dish it could be a perfect healthy breakfast as well.

You will ask What is Ajvar?

Ajvar is a condiment made mainly from charred red bell peppers and eggplant. It originates from Bulgaria and Macedonia, but a lot of people believe that it is a Croatian or Bosnian dish. Well, you can find many interpretations and lot of different names have been given to it based on who is doing the naming and what is being added to it.

Bottom line is that Ajvar is the Pepper Caviar of the Balkans.

Ajvar can taste mild and fruity or spicy. You can also grill the peppers and eggplant for more of a charred flavor. Getting creative with Ajvar’s recipes isn’t hard, including the way it’s served. It is a perfect as a condiment in itself but it combines well with grilled fish and meats too. You can use it as a sandwich spread or slather it on crackers. Add a crumble feta cheese and you are not going to be able to stop eating it.

Ajvar contains multitudes, but this much is clear: we could all benefit from eating more of it. Here is a guide to start your journey.

You Need:

Eggplant 1
Red and Orange Bell Peppers3-4
Garlic Cloves3-4
Carrots2 medium size
Tomato Sauce2 cups
Fresh Parsley1/2 bunch
Olive Oil4 tbsp.
Salt1 tsp.
Black Pepper1 tsp.
Sugar1 tsp.
Onion Powder1 tsp.
Garlic Powder1 tsp

Instructions:

Heat oven to 450°F

Roast the eggplant, peppers and carrots. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a little salt and black pepper. Make a hole in them; stuff each hole with garlic clove and place it on the baking sheet. Place peppers and carrots as well, line with foil and bake.

Roast the peppers and eggplant until they are blackened, blistered, and the eggplant have a golden crust (about 20 minutes). Remove the peppers, place them in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap until the peppers have slightly cooled (about 5 minutes). Use a spoon or ice-cream scoop to remove the pulp of the eggplant from the skin, and discard the skin.

Once peppers are cooled enough to handle, peel them (reserving any juices that collect), discard the peel, and add the peppers, eggplant, carrots, parsley, tomato sauce, the rest of the olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder and sugar in food processor. Blended until smoot.

Taste and add more salt, pepper or sugar if necessary. Serve at room temperature.

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