FOOD LESSON 101: Many of you may not know what this is. Ajvar (or also known by some as “vegetarian caviar”) is a Croatian / Serbian roasted eggplant-sweet-pepper combination. It can be mashed or left chunky, depending on personal taste, and served as a relish, vegetable or spread on country-style cornbread as an appetizer or side.
2 large eggplants, about 3 pounds
6 large red bell peppers
Salt and black pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup good-quality olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley (optional)
Heat oven to 475 degrees F.
Place washed eggplants and peppers on a baking sheet with a lip to catch any juices, and roast until their skins blister and turn black, about 30 minutes.
Place roasted vegetables in a heatproof bowl.
Cover with plastic wrap and let them steam for 10 minutes.
Peel off and discard blackened skins, stems and seeds.
In a large bowl, mash or chop vegetables, depending on how smooth or chunky you like your ajvar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add garlic and lemon juice, and drizzle in oil, stirring constantly.
Transfer to a glass dish and sprinkle with chopped parsley for garnish, if desired.
Store covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.
Makes 6 servings.