|Ajvar (Balkan Vegetable Caviar)|
Bake eggplants and sweet peppers at 350 F until tender when pierced with a fork. Peel skin from hot vegetables and chop or mince the vegetables. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the garlic and lemon juice. Gradually stir in as much of the oil as the vegetables will absorb. Mix well. Pile into a glass dish and sprinkle with parsley.
Serve as an appetizer spread on thick slices of country-style white bread, or flat pita bread, or use as a side dish to accompany grilled or roasted meats especially lamb.
Chervil is sometimes used instead of parsley. You could also add fresh paprikas or hot red chiles, a minced onion or a little red wine or red wine vinegar for a portion of the lemon juice.
Instead of roasting the vegetables in a 350 oven you can roast the peppers and eggplant over charcoal or gas flame, or bake in a preheated oven at 475 deg. F until the skins are blistered and black. Place the roasted vegetables in a paper bag and let them steam in their own heat for 10 minutes. Peel off and discard the burnt skins along with the stems and seeds. Mash the pepper and eggplant pulp together to form a homogeneous mass, either smooth or slightly chunky, as desired.
String beans and unripe tomatoes can be combined into ajvar. Fresh ajvar is always made during summer and early autumn, just after the paprika harvest, when many households can or bottle their own ajvar for use throughout the year.
From: Jane Rinear "Our Favorite Recipes" St. Anthony Croatian Catholic Church
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