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Grilled, Sauces and Condiments, Vegetarian

Roasted Pepper and Eggplant Spread

Exchanging recipes with neighbors is friendly and fun. But as a newlywed and a novice at the stove, I quickly found out that it can also be dangerous. When I lived in Bat Yam in metropolitan Tel Aviv, my next-door ... Read more

Total time: 1 hour | Serves 6 to 8
  • 2 eggplants (about 3 pounds total)
  • 3 red bell peppers
  • 2 or 3 red or green jalapenos, optional
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Hot paprika or cayenne pepper
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar or citrus vinegar

Step 1Heat the grill or broiler.

Step 2Grill or broil the eggplants, bell peppers and jalapenos, turning them often, until their skins blister all over and begin to blacken. (You may have to do this in batches.) The eggplant and peppers should take 10 to 15 minutes, the jalapenos, 5 minutes. Transfer them to a bowl and cover tightly, or put them in a plastic bag and seal it. Let them stand about 10 minutes.

Step 3Peel the eggplant, bell peppers and jalapenos using a paring knife. Remove the caps, seeds and ribs. Be careful; there may be hot liquid inside them. Drain them well. Do not rinse.

Step 4Chop the eggplant and peppers very fine with a knife, or puree them in a food processor. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and add the garlic and the salt, pepper and hot paprika to taste. Mix well. Stir in the oil and vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve at room temperature or cold.

Note: Grill eggplants and peppers together, puree the mixture and you get a delicious Balkan spread called ajvar. I learned to prepare it in Israel, where it's a favorite among people of Bulgarian origin. Traditionally the spread is made either mild or hot, depending on the kinds of peppers the cook uses. I always include plenty of red bell peppers for the delightful sweet taste and reddish hue they give the spread.
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