Ajvar is a Croatian / Serbian roasted eggplant-sweet-pepper mixture, sometimes referred to as vegetarian caviar. It can be mashed or left chunky, depending on personal taste, and served as a relish, vegetable or spread on country-style white bread like pogacha as an appetizer. Its smoky flavor is a great match for grilled or roasted meats, especially lamb.
You can vary this recipe by adding chopped hot red chiles and onion, and substituting red wine or red wine vinegar for the lemon juice. Bulgarian kiopoolu is similar but it uses green peppers instead of red and tomatoes are added.
Makes 6 servings of Ajvar
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
- 2 large eggplants, about 3 pounds
- 6 large red bell peppers
- Salt and black pepper
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup good-quality olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley (optional)
- Heat oven to 475 degrees. Place washed eggplants and peppers on a baking sheet with a lip to catch any juices, and roast until their skins blister and turn black, about 30 minutes.
- Place roasted vegetables in a heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let them steam for 10 minutes.
- Peel off and discard blackened skins, stems and seeds. In a large bowl, mash or chop vegetables, depending on how smooth or chunky you like your ajvar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add garlic and lemon juice, and drizzle in oil, stirring constantly.
- Transfer to a glass dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley for garnish, if desired. Store covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.