Ajvar (North Macedonia)

Ajvar is the traditional spicy red pepper and eggplant spread of the Balkans.  I mentioned it in connection with Lake Ohrid in North Macedonia, but it's popular in Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Albania as well.

It's absolutely delightful as a condiment and works in so many ways.  This version is an "Americanized" option, since finding fresh ripe red paprika peppers can be challenging.  So we'll substitute a blend of red bell peppers and red Anaheims or jalapeños peppers.

Makes three cups

INGREDIENTS​​

  • 3 red bell peppers

  • 3 Holland, Fresno, or red jalapeño chiles

  • 1 Japanese eggplant or small regular eggplant (about 12 ounces)

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium onion, chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

  • Kosher salt

STEPS

  1. Over a gas flame or in a broiler or even on a grill, roast the peppers, chiles, and eggplant, turning frequently, until charred all over, 20-25 minutes.

  2. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and cover tightly with several layers of plastic wrap to let steam; let cool completely.  The steam will loosen the skins.

  3. Peel and seed peppers and chiles. Using a spoon, scoop out any large pockets of stringy seeds from center of eggplant.

  4. Heat oil in a medium skillet over low heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is very soft and golden brown around edges, 25-30 minutes. Let cool in skillet.

  5. Finely chop onion, garlic, and vegetables and combine in a medium bowl, or if you prefer, pulse in a food processor until finely chopped.

  6. Stir in juice and season with salt.

  7. Eat with bread, crackers, veggies, or put on burgers or other meats

 

Recipe adapted from https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/ajvar

Photo by Wikipedia user off-shell

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