Ajvar is a delicious vegetable relish, or caviar, common in the Balkans and other parts of Eastern Europe. It’s a perfect recipe for late summer and early fall to use up sweet peppers and eggplant, and is delicious over kebabs, fish, chicken or as a dip with fresh pita bread. Makes roughly 2-3 cups.
Ajvar – Roasted Pepper and Eggplant Caviar
- 1 medium eggplant
- 2 medium red or yellow sweet peppers
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed with a small pinch of coarse salt
- 2 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, or sunflower oil
- Pinch of Aleppo chili, or cayenne pepper
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 3 Tablespoons freshly chopped basil, parsley, or a mix of the two
Preheat your grill, or broiler to high heat. Place the eggplant and peppers on the grill or under the broiler and cook until all sides of eggplant and peppers are blistered and black. Remove from the heat and place in a covered container to steam.
Once the vegetables are cool enough to handle, peel off all the skins, and remove the pepper seeds. Roughly chop into a ½ inch dice.
Next or while the broiled vegetables are cooling, smash the garlic cloves with the side of your knife, and roughly chop. Sprinkle the garlic with a small pinch of coarse salt, and using the side of your knife, grind the garlic into a paste.
Put the garlic, eggplant and peppers in a medium bowl and add the red wine vinegar, oil, and Aleppo or cayenne. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper and allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes, to half an hour to allow the flavors to blend. Taste, and adjust salt, pepper, vinegar and Aleppo to your liking. Add the roughly chopped herbs just before serving.