Aaaarrrjjvvaaarrr ... I love that word. It rolls around the tongue so growly-like. Grrr ...
(Oh gosh! Embarrassing moment .... so I was told it's not pronounced aaarrjjvvvarrr but aiiiyyeevvarrr ... or an easier read: "eye-var".)
Ajvar is a Serbian relish. Its main ingredients consists of red bell peppers, eggplant and garlic. Other optional ingredients are vinegar and chilli peppers which produce versions from a lightly piquant to blow-your-pants-off hot.
This oh-so-versatile relish was introduced to me by Three Cookies having smeared some on his potato pancake and chorizo lunch and blogging about it. Go check Mr Three Cookies out (That's right, Mr Three Cookies ...... first name "Three", last name "Cookies"). Say hi.
It (the ajvar) had looked better than any ketchup I've seen and I was curious enough to look up the recipe on multiple sites and one that he (Mr T) suggested to me and was quite happy with what I saw. I've always loved roasted red peppers and eggplant. What could be better than to mush them all together and put it in a jar for when and if I need some kind of condiment for anything that requires a condiment. And now ... I'm hooked! I doubt I can go back to regular ketchup or relishes anymore. I had this with a regular hotdog the other day and it was mmm nom nom good! I'd even used it as a salad dressing! And today, I just wanted something light (another way of saying I was too lazy and can't decide what I wanted for lunch) and was digging into my ever crowded freezer and found some frozen pizza dough and decided I'd do a bruschetta-ish type snack.
This is ever so simple!
Here are the instructions ....
Roll out dough.
Smear with Ajvar.
How simple is that?
Oh ... yeah ... the Ajvar recipe.
1 eggplant (abt 200g)
3 large sweet red peppers ( totalling abt 600g)
1 garlic clove
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar (optional)
1/4 - 1/2 cup good grapeseed oil (or a good quality olive oil) (I used 1/4 cup as I didn't want it too runny)
a little oil to coat veges / cooking spray (optional)
optional ingredients: vinegar, chilli peppers, cayenne, chilli flakes.
Heat oven to 200˚C.
Wash and dry eggplant and peppers. Cut eggplant into large chunks and quarter the peppers. Discard core and seeds of red peppers. Spray veges with a little oil (or not, but I did) and place in a single layer onto a parchment or aluminum foil lined baking tray. Roast for about 40 - 50 minutes or until it's wilted and the skin turns black.
Place roasted veges into a heatproof baggy and seal or, into a heatproof bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap and allow to sweat for about 15 - 20 mins.
Peel and discard the skins of both veges. Place into a food processor together with the garlic clove, lemon juice, sugar (if using) and salt. Buzz a couple of times to a chunky puree and then slowly drizzle in the oil while the blade is still running, until well incorporated.
At this point, it's up to you whether you want the ajvar to be chunky or a fine puree. As you can see, I like mine somewhere in between.
Sprinkle with chopped parsley to serve or put it into a clean jar and store in the fridge.
Use to your heart's content.