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VEGETABLE SPREAD AJVAR

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Ajvar Vegetable Spread Recipe

Ajvar is a popular vegetable spread throughout the Balkans. The best ajvar is usually homemade, prepared in mid-fall, when the red peppers and other produce are in season, and most abundant and flavorful.

Ajvar is commomly made with tomatoes, red peppers and roasted eggplants, but my recipe is without the eggplants. This recipe is very easy to make and super delicious. It is also a great way to utilize your extra tomatoes and peppers, and enjoy a healthy snack through most of the year. This is what you need for 5 big jars (800 ml. each) of ajvar:

 

Ajvar vegetable spread

Ingredients: 3 kg. of tomatoes (home-grown organic tomatoes, if possible); 2 1/2 kg. red sweet peppers; 1/4 cup olive oil; 1 tbsp. dried summer savory; 1 tbsp. chopped fresh sweet basil; 1/3 cup sugar; 2 tbsp. salt; 1 tsp. ground black pepper.

Recipe: Start by washing all the produce under cold running water. Core the tomatoes and place them in a large saucepan. Boil some water and pour it over the tomatoes. Let them sit in the hot water for about 3-4 minutes, then dump the water and peel all the tomatoes. Put the tomatoes in a blender and blend them. Pour the blended tomatoes in the large saucepan. Remove the stems and seeds from the peppers, dice them and blend them as well. Put the blended red peppers in the saucepan with the tomatoes. Bring them to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the basil, and simmer for about 2-3 hours until reduced by 25%, sturring occasionally. Add the basil ten minutes before the ajvar is ready. Prepare five 800 ml. jars with lids. Using a laddle, fill them up with the still hot ajvar, and secure the lids. Let them sit for a while to cool down. When the jars with ajvar have cooled down, the suction caps on the lids should be sucked in. This ensures that the jars are properly sterilized.

Cooking tip: Usually people use fire roasted red peppers, instead of fresh peppers, because of the smokey flavor they give to the ajvar. If you have the ability you can do that, but I find it unnecessary. This recipe is quite tasty the way it is.

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Chef George Krumov
About the author: George Krumov is a Red Seal certified chef with many years of culinary experience working around the world in Europe, the Middle East, the cruise line industry and North America. In the last two decades he has headed the kitchens of several restaurants in Canada, and ran his own restaurant.

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