ajvar – roast capsicum relish

November 22, 2012

I’m a pretty big fan of condiments. Having a bit of a restricted diet means I need to be creative with making healthy food packed with flavour. This classic Serbian dish (pronounced ‘ay-va’) is known as ‘Serbian vegetable caviar’. I’ve loved it for as long as I can remember as it’s my (half-Serbian) Dad’s favourite condiment and we always had a jar in the fridge growing up. It’s pretty easy to find on the super-market shelves, but it’s really so easy to make (and tastes better homemade too), stores in the fridge for a couple of weeks, and makes a great gift. It’s smoky taste from the roasting means it goes great with meat (especially roast lamb), spread it on toast, use it as a dip or mix it through pasta. It’s my favourite way to eat capsicum. It’s my Dad’s birthday today, so I made him up a pot. Here’s the recipe: 

Makes about 3 cups of relish

ingredients

  • 4 red capsicums
  • 2 large eggplants 
  • 1 clove garlic – finely chopped/crushed
  • 1 Tbs white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/2 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil

method

  1. Heat the oven to grill
  2. Roast the eggplants and capsicum (leave the oven door slightly ajar) until their skins are blackened. (You can roast them whole and just rotate them every now and then, or I find it’s quicker and easier as you don’t have to rotate, to remove the capsicum seeds & stems, quarter them up and arrange skin-side up on a baking tray; and cut the eggplants into quarters and roast with their skin-side up.)
  3. Once blackened, carefully place all pieces in a plastic bag and tie to make airtight so the skins can sweat off
  4. Once cool enough to touch, discard all the skins (and any capsicum seeds / stalks if you roasted them whole)
  5. Add roasted capsicum & eggplant flesh to a blender, along with garlic & vinegar/lemon juice and whiz until all combined well.
  6. Season to your taste, then add the oil (in a steady stream) which will give it a nice shininess. Blend until it’s at your desired level of smooth/chunkiness.
  7. Store in a sterilized, airtight jar in the fridge (it will keep for a couple of weeks).

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