Okay, this may not be a new condiment in your household but this seriously finger-licking smoky sauce-like condiment is definitely new to me and puts a real pep in my step!
It’s what would happen if babaganoush and roasted red pepper hooked up and made a baby – they would name this baby, Ajvar.
I accidentally found this stuff when I wandered into a Macedonian grocery store in my old neighborhood on hunt for feta. They had about 50 different brands of Ajvar which sounds crazy but it occurred to me that those who know their Ajvar, really like and know their Ajvar.
So what is this stuff??? It’s basically a Balkan condiment made at the end of the harvest season when eggplant and peppers are plenty. Both are roasted with an almost offensive amount of garlic, pureed with olive oil and preserved in jars. Traditionally, the thick sauce, made spicy or mild is often a condiment to sausages and steak but I think it is fantastic on carbs for a delish vegetarian meal!
Other uses for Ajvar? I’ve mixed it into cooked rice or used it as a sauce over pasta and it has been a hit. Dolloped over fresh ricotta with some olive oil and suddenly it’s an easy appetizer screaming to be attacked by toasted pita or crusty bread – that sounded a bit violent…I know. I’ve yet to try it but I bet it would be great on pizza instead of pomodoro or even mixed into a quiche or eggs for extra flavor.
- 350 g dried pasta
- 1 tomato, chopped
- Handful of baby kale, spinach or arugula
- 1 cup of another veggie of your liking, we used corn off the cob
- 1/3 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup Ajvar
- Lots of pasta cooking liquid
Add the pasta to a large pot of salted boiling water and cook until al dente. Reserve 1 cup of cooking liquid, drain and return pasta to the pot. Add the tomato and Ajvar and cook until hot and tomatoes have softened.
If the sauce is tight, add some of the pasta water to loosen. Add the kale and veggies until they are cooked through. Right before serving, toss in the parsley and stir through.
Plate it up and enjoy. Serves 4 as a light main.
NOTE: This would be a great time to use up that sausage from yesterday’s BBQ or leftover bacon from breakfast or rotisserie chicken (you get the idea). Toss it in with the tomatoes to heat them through. If you get the hot variety, it can be really hot. The mild stuff might actually be better for pasta unless you want a real kick. I didn’t find there was a need for cheese here but a bit of Parmesan never hurt anyone, right?