Spicy Serbian delight…
There’s quite a delightful mix of flavors in the ajvar sauce. This Serbian recipe is sweet, tangy, spicy, and smoky all wrapped into one. And don’t let the word “sauce” fool you – this is a multi-purpose relish that can serve as well as a dipper or topper as it does a traditional sauce. It’s as delicious as a pasta sauce as it is a sandwich spread or cracker dip.
The spiciness is brought to you by cayenne pepper, with a little help (and a lot of smokiness) from smoked paprika. Don’t forgo either as each does its part to make this recipe so delicious.
- 5 red bell peppers
- 1 eggplant
- 6 Kalamata olives chopped
- 4 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- De-stem then the red bell peppers, then cut them in half lengthwise. Remove the seeds and membrane from each half. Cut the eggplant in half lengthwise.
- Place the vegetables, skin-side up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Then place the baking sheet in the oven. Broil the vegetables until the bell peppers blister (they should blacken slightly -gives the sauce an earthier flavor) and the eggplant has softened.
- Remove the baking sheet from the oven. While hot, place the peppers in a glass mixing bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap to steam the peppers. Steam them until the peppers cool. This will help the peeling process later.
- Spoon out the flesh of the eggplant (remove large seeds along the way) and place the flesh in a food processor. Add the Kalamata olives and garlic to the food processor as well. Process the vegetables until smooth.
- Uncover the bell peppers, then peel off the skin (as much as possible). Place the bell peppers in the processor with the sauce. Pulse chop the peppers to a form a chunky sauce.
- Pour the sauce into a bowl, then add the white wine vinegar, smoked paprika, and cayenne pepper. Stir to combine. Then add salt to taste.
- Serve immediately, or for best flavor allow the ajvar sauce to chill covered in the refrigerator for 2 to 3 hours to allow the flavors to meld.
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Such a rich and wholesome flavor; seems to be a perfect companion to any meat or vegetable dish. Maybe even a cheese platter! Will be doing some experimenting with this, for sure.