~ "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; Through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." ~ "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing" ~ "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." ~ "Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."~

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Ajvar...A wonderful roasted vegetable spread/dip.

Ajvar...A wonderful roasted vegetable spread/dip.When I saw this recipe for Ajvar , on Tastespotting, I knew I would try it. I used to buy this spread from a Middle Eastern store...before we moved to Montana. We often enjoyed the spread on pieces of crusty bread and sometimes used it as a dip. But here in Montana, specialty stores are pretty rare. So, we haven't had this spread in quite a long time. I was quite happy when it was posted.It brought back fond memories. Actually, I missed it! Now, why had I forgotten about it? Well, I was thrilled to be able to make it at home. The recipe included step-by-step photos...it looked rather uncomplicated and I knew I could duplicate it. Plus, the recipe didn't make too much. It would be perfect for us. I often make eggplant dip (or salata de vinete)... and this recipe was a bit similar. Instead of using just eggplants as the base, the Ajvar also includes grilled/roasted bell peppers and onion. It really is a great and different spread. It has such a beautiful bright color. Great to have on hand when you want a quick snack or appetizer. I chose to use it with bagel crostini.... Just for reference, you can easily double the recipe and freeze it. It freezes beautifully! Did we like this vegetables spread?....we absolutely LOVED it! Hope you can try it one day....

You will need: adapted from Mogwai Soup
4 large red bell peppers (I didn't have all red so I used some orange and yellow)
1 small to medium eggplant
1 large onion
1 jalapeno pepper (you can add more if you want yours to be hot)
1 tsp of crushed black pepper
1 and 1/2 tsp of table salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 TBS-1/4 cup of white vinegar(I put a range, because after making it again, I found that the vinegar was a bit strong)
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 -1 TBS paprika (optional...I thought mine needed a bit of color since I didn't use all red bell peppers)
Directions: Wash peppers and eggplant. Dry. Pierce the eggplant....this helps so that the eggplant doesn't burst.
Peel the onion and cut in half. Place the eggplant ,peppers and onion on a hot grill until they are blackened. It is easier to peel the eggplant and bell peppers when their skin is blackened. You will need to turn them over so that all the sides get blackened.
Take them off the grill and place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. The steam that forms will help the skin come off the vegetables. Remove the skin from peppers and eggplant and cut them into pieces.
Do the same with the onion. Mince the garlic and the jalapeno. Place them in a pot on the stove on medium heat. Add oil and vinegar and seasoning. Mix.
Cook on very low for at least one hour ...or longer. Cook and stir frequently so that it doesn't burn. When it is done, place the mixture in a blender and blend till smooth. If you want it more chunky don't blend it too long...use the pulse button.
You can return it to the pot for just a few more minutes. Place in jars. You can sterilize the jars and pour a little oil on top before sealing them. Serve with crostini, bread, meats, etc.


Sailaja Damodaran said...

rice dip...must try

Ashleyta said...

Is this different than zacusca? Looks yummy...

Ellie said...

This recipe is a variation of the zacusca you and I know. It does not contain any tomatoes....and some vinegar is added for taste. Other than that, it is similar to zacusca. But I love the blended method... we absolutely loved this dip!

Abigail said...

Hi Ellie... I fell in love with zacusca while at Claudia's home with Lydia, Ashley, Daniela, and Jonathan. I loved it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. June told me where to find it in CA, but would I just add tomato to this recipe for the same flavours? Thanks... Abby

Ellie said...

Abby, So sweet of you to stop by:)...
Yes,zacusca has tomatoes added(either in the form of fresh tomatoes or tomato paste)....though some skip the garlic.
Here is the basic way of making zacusca:
1.Grill the eggplants and bell peppers. and peel and finely chop them( or pulse them in a food processor).
2. Chop the onion and sautee it in oil till soft and golden. Add the garlic.
3.Add the chopped eggplant, bell peppers, peeled and chopped fresh tomatoes OR the tomato paste.
4. Add a bay leaf(optional and seasoning.
5. Cook on low for a few hours...stirring often as the mixture has a tendency to scorch.

The zacusca sometimes can have a bit more eggplant... so for 4-5 large bell peppers you may want to use 2 medium eggplants. and if using tomato paste, 2-3 TBS would be good. Traditionally, Zacusca has a ton of oil, I like to use less.

I hope this helps a bit:) Yes, I too can eat it for breakfast lunch or dinner:)...Have fun cooking! ~Ellie

kc said...

This is the recipe that I am dying to try, but since I am allergic to corn I must wait until eggplants and peppers are in season at my local farmers market (grocery store eggplants and peppers are coated with corn wax). Actually, this is a fantastic site full of recipes that work for the corn allergic. Most recipes I find need to be tweaked to leave out corn derivatives and corntaminated staples, but very few of these need any modifications. I also love the eclectic mix of cuisines - it's exactly the way I like to cook.

Ellie said...

Kc, Thanks for your comment...I am so glad you are enjoying the site. I am honored! Hope you can enjoy this recipe in the summer...

Flavia said...

Ellie, I am so excited to find this page. I was also born in Romania and now live in the US but am dying to start cooking some of the traditional stuff we ate when I was a kid. Great to find recipes that remind me of my childhood. This one I'm definitely going to try out this week :)

Ellie said...

Flavia, Welcome:)! I'm glad you found this recipe...we love it, as it reminds us of the zacusca we grew up with. Sometimes it's worth making dishes that remind us of our childhood:).
Lately, I've been making more and more Romanian dishes...I seem to miss them.
I hope you like it, feel free to adjust to preference.
Thanks for stopping by...have a great day!