Ajvar is popular appetizer or side dish made of roasted paprika, ripe tomatoes, and even string beans can be combined into ajvar. Ajvar is a seasonal dish in Macedonia, always made in late summer and early autumn, just after the paprika harvest, when many households also can or bottle their own ajvar for use throughout the winter season.
- 8-12 fresh red paprika (mild or medium-hot, to taste)
- 4 medium-size eggplants
- 100-150 ml vegetable oil (olive oil)
- 1 large onion, minced
- 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
- 1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar (to taste)
- 2 tsp sugar (optional)
- Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
- Chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- Roast the paprika and eggplants over charcoal or a gas flame, or bake them in a preheated 250º C (475º F) oven, until the skin is blistered and darkened. Place the roasted vegetables in a plastic bag and let them steam in their own heat for 10 minutes.
- Peel off and discard the burnt skin along with the steams and seeds. Transfer the peppers and eggplant in the food-processor. Blend together until they form a slightly chunky mass.
- Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in a large skillet and fry the onion until very soft. Add garlic and cook for 2 more minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pepper-eggplant pulp, mixing well.
- Slowly drizzle the remaining oil into the mixture, stirring constantly to incorporate all of the oil. Add vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper, to taste. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with parsley.
- Serve as an appetizer to spread on thick slices of country-style white bread or flat pita bread with chunks of feta cheese, or use as a side dish to accompany grilled or roasted meats.