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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Ajvar -- Serbian Red Pepper and Eggplant Spread -- Vegan and Paleo



The other day I got a bunch of vegetables free and was trying to come up with space efficient ways to prepare them, which could then be preserved, since I was short on refrigerator space and needed ways to store them.
A friend suggested ajvar, a Serbian red pepper and eggplant based condiment, what some would call a salsa. I'd never heard of it before, but since I love foods from around the world, I had a feeling I'd like this food. I had hopes that my kids, who don't like cooked peppers or eggplant (a sensory thing, I'm sure, because of it's texture) would enjoy it because blending it probably makes the texture more palatable to them. And I was right! Everyone in my family loved ajvar, which is why I'm glad this recipe made enough to put into a few small containers to freeze, in addition to the one we ate right away.
Ajvar is the perfect balance between sweet, sour, salty and spicy, and works great to add a lot of flavor to anything you're eating, whether by spreading it on bread or crackers, as a dip for crudites or chips, or any place you'd use ketchup or salsa, such as on meat or fish, grains, etc...

This condiment is allergy friendly and is great for nearly any diet, including vegan, gluten free, paleo, low carb, etc...

Ajvar -- Serbian Red Pepper and Eggplant Spread -- Vegan and Paleo

Ingredients
8-10 small red peppers or 6-7 large
2 small or one large eggplant
1 tablespoon oil (olive is traditional, but any is fine)
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder or fresh garlic to taste
1/2-1 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
Hot pepper flakes to taste (optional)

Instructions:
1. Wash eggplants and peppers, prick eggplants once each with a fork, then place whole into the oven on a lined baking tray at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until the peppers are soft and starting to get charred and the eggplants are fully soft.

2. Let cool in the oven.

3. Slice eggplants in half, scoop out the inside of each one, and place in a food processor.

4. The peel should come off easily from your peppers. (If they don't, cook for a little bit longer until they do.) make sure to remove any burnt peel, as well as the stems and seeds. If there are parts of the peel that stay on the peppers that is OK as long as most is removed.

5. Process in a food processor until smooth.

6. Add the rest of the ingredients and process, then adjust as needed, to taste.

7. Store in the fridge until use.

Enjoy!



Have you ever eaten, made, or heard of ajvar before? How do you make yours? What is your favorite way to eat it?
Does this look like a recipe you'd try?

3 comments:

  1. I love ajvar. I have never made it but buy it quite often. I love it spread on fresh bread or toast. I also add it to some stews and casseroles.

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  2. Oh, a heavenly taste of my childhood. I was born and raised in Serbia, but no longer live there. Ajvar is the only thing from Serbia that I am longing for. My husband swears that he saw once and even bought THE REAL ajvar here in Jerusalem, some 14 years ago. I tried to make it (with my Israeli shortcuts, of course), but it never had THAT taste. First of all, ajvar is traditionally made of abundant quantities of peppers (5, 10, 20 kg), at the end of summer, as a great way of preserving them for winter. I would dare to say that the smaller quantities simply don't do the job. Then you need to grill peppers first and to peel them which is itself a very time consuming and ungrateful procedure; gas-charred peppers are fine, but nothing beats pappers rosted on woodstove, as they still (I guess) do in Serbia. The last (even though not the least), the prepared ajvar should be poured into still hot, sterilized glass jars and sealed them with cellophan smeared with egg white, if I remember correctly.

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