Ajvar is a delicious relish made with roasted red bell peppers and eggplants. It's perfect with meat and vegetables or as a spread with some fresh bread.
We love our dips and spreads, they make every meal better and elevate the flavors. If you love baba ganoush and muhammara, you're going to love today's recipe. This Balkan red bell pepper relish is so good, you'll be making it over and over again!
Table Of Contents:
What Is Ajvar?
Originated in Serbia, ajvar is a classic roasted red pepper relish popular in the Balkan countries including Bosnia and Macedonia. It's made with roasted red pepper and eggplants, jarred and enjoyed in winter. It's usually served as a condiment alongside meat or as a spread with bread.
- Eggplant: Choose a meaty eggplant such as Italian or globe eggplant for this recipe. A good eggplant should have shiny skin and feel firm and heavy for its size.
- Red bell pepper: The main ingredient of this recipe. It cannot be substituted with orange, green or yellow bell peppers.
- Garlic: While this roasted red pepper relish is not very garlicky, we need a few cloves just to bring the flavors together.
- Olive oil: To give the condiment a silkier texture.
- White vinegar: For a bit of a tang and flavor that goes well with the smoky vegetables.
How To Make Ajvar
- Grill the vegetables: Turn on the gas stove (or grill) to medium high. Pierce the eggplant with a fork a few times and place it over the flame. Place the red bell peppers on the open flame as well. Grill for about 15 minutes, rotating frequently, until the eggplant is fully cooked and tender and the bell peppers' skin is charred.
- Let the vegetables sweat: Remove and place it in a bowl and cover with a plastic wrap. This will make the vegetables easier to peel. Let them sit for a few minutes to sweat and become cool enough to handle.
- Blend: Peel the charred bell peppers and eggplant and place them in the bowl of a stand mixer with the olive oil, salt, garlic and white vinegar. Blend until all are mixed and smooth.
- Cook: Transfer the ajvar to a saucepan and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes. Let it come to room temperature. You can serve it cold or at room temperature.
Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. You can also store this Serbian relish in a mason jar.
Can I freeze ajvar? Yes, this condiment freezes well. Transfer it to a freezer safe bag, flatten it and freeze it for up to 6 months. to serve, let it thaw in the fridge overnight and simmer for 10 minutes over medium heat before serving.
Frequently Asked Questions
Not necessarily. If you like it to be a bit spicy, you can add a little bit of chili pepper.
Yes, you can broil the vegetables in the oven to make ajvar. They will not have the smoky flavor, but the relish is going to be delicious.
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Ajvar Roasted Red Pepper Relish
- 3 red bell peppers
- 1 eggplant globe or Italian
- 3 tablespoon olive oil
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 ½ tbsp white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Turn on the gas stove or outdoor grill to medium high. Place the red bell peppers over the open flame. Pierce the eggplant a few times with a fork and place it on the open flame as well.
- Grill and roast for 15 to 20 minutes, rotating frequently. The peppers' skin will be completely charred and the eggplant will be tender. Remove from the stove and transfer to a bowl. Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and leave the vegetable to sweat. This will help with the peeling.
- Once the vegetable are cool enough to handle, peel them and discard the red bell peppers' seeds.
- Place the vegetables in the bowl of a food processor and ad the olive oil, garlic, white vinegar and salt. blend until the ingredients are mixed and the mixture is smooth.
- Transfer the ajvar to a saucepan and simmer over medium heat for 20 minutes. This is an optional step but I strongly recommend it for better texture and deeper flavor.
- Remove ajvar from the heat and let it come to room temperature before serving. You can serve ajvar cold or at room temperature.