A traditional Macedonian spread, Ajvar recipes tend to vary from family to family. Made from red peppers and eggplant, the tangy, sweet, smokey flavors dance on your tongue. The dish is usually reserved for late summer/early autumn preparation as by that time the peppers have come in fully. It’s also Football season in America by that time! This spread (or dip, if you will) is a cinch to make, and is a fantastic addition to any game-day snack spread or party tray. Our favorite version of the recipe follows….
Ajvar (Roasted Red Pepper Spread)
- 5-8 red peppers (approx 3 pounds)
- 1 medium eggplant (approx 1 pound)
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- cayenne pepper (optional to taste)
- salt and pepper (to taste)
Roast the peppers and eggplant over grill, or broil until the skin is blistered and darkened. Place the roasted vegetables in a paper bag and let them steam. Let rest at least 15 minutes.
Peel off and discard the burnt skin along with stems and seeds. Mash the peppers and eggplant together to form a chunky pulp.
Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet and saute the garlic. Remove from the heat and stir in the pepper-eggplant pulp, mixing well.
Drizzle the remaining oil into the mixture, stirring constantly to incorporate. Add lemon juice or vinegar, and salt and pepper, to taste.
Transfer to a bowel to serve warm, or chill in refrigerator for later.
Serve with crusty bread, crackers, or alongside some kifli.