Monday, 31 October 2011


I had never made ajvar before, and I was pleased to realize it's really very easy. A little tedious to peel all the peppers, but no biggie. And since we decided to haul in all our peppers and eggplants last week, I needed something to do with some of them. I realize this is rather late in the season for making this, but bookmark it for next year. Now to figure out what to do with the other 7/8ths of a bushel of peppers sitting on my kitchen table. Not to mention probably a peck of eggplants.

Ajvar, in case you wanted to know, is simply a paste of roasted red peppers and eggplant, seasoned with lemon juice, salt and pepper, and usually smoothed with a little oil. The word is related, through the Turkish, to caviar. It hails from the Balkans, where they all fight about who invented it and how it should be made exactly. (You wondered what all that bickering was about over there. Now you know.) The Serbians seem to be carrying the day, but the Macedonians are neither down nor out. Recipes vary from all-eggplant to all-pepper, smooth or chunky, hot or mild, so take my version with a grain of salt. Also with some good sliced bread and a sprinkle of parsley, although I intend to use it on pizza, spread it on baked chicken, dip chips in it, and maybe toss it with some pasta or rice.

4 to 5 cups
2 hours or more- 1 hour prep time

Roast the Vegetables:
4 small eggplants (or 2 large ones; probably about 1 1/2 kilos or 3 pounds)
2 heads garlic, cleaned but unpeeled
6 to 12 thick-walled mild to slightly hot peppers, again about 1 1/2 kilos or 3 pounds

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Wash the veggies and cut off any bad spots. Arrange them in a single layer on trays, and bake them for about 30 minutes, until soft and blackened in spots. You may wish to turn a few of them half way through if they look like getting too black.

When they are done, set the garlic aside, and put the peppers and eggplant into a sealed container to steam as they cool. Let them cool for at least half an hour to several hours.

Finish the Ajvar:
3 or 4 cloves garlic
2 teaspoons pickling salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
the juice of 1 or 2 lemons
1/4 to 1/2 cup sunflower seed oil

Peel the cooled eggplant and peppers, discarding the skins, stems and seeds. Put them in a food processor with the peeled roasted garlic cloves and the peeled raw garlic, salt and pepper. Chop until it has reached a texture you like. Remove it to a bowl and mix in the lemon juice and the oil.

I packed mine in sterilized jars, because I hope to keep it in the fridge for a few weeks, but if you wish to can it for longer storage it must be pressure-canned. I would be more inclined to freeze it, myself.

Last year at this time I made Stir-Fried Broccoli with Red Peppers and Onions, and Smoked Fish Pie. Okay, I lied. My mom made the fish pie.


CallieK said...

It looks delicious- I make melitzanosalata which is similar but doesn't use peppers. I wonder if you bumped up the lemon juice and omitted the oil if it would be hot water bath safe to can. Can't wait to try it!

Kevin Kossowan said...

I love ajvar. So tasty.