East of Paris Bookstore

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Seasonal Transitions

Anyone with links to the Balkans [southeast of Paris] has encountered ajvar [pronounced aye-var].  It is a roasted eggplant-pepper mixture that is canned in late summer and served as an appetizer or relish through out the winter months.  

It wasn't until a summer in Santa Fe, New Mexico that I experienced a different take on an old favorite.   One year at a pre-opera cocktail party we were served cherry tomatoes stuffed with ajvar as a passed hors d’oeuvre.   It was made with red peppers and with enough cayenne to make things interesting.    Summer tomatoes plus winter preserves ... the best of both seasons.

1 eggplant
2 green peppers
1 red pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika 
1 teaspoon kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Cut the ends off the eggplant and microwave on high for 3 mintes.  Turn the eggplant over and microwave on high for 3 more minutes.  Cool to room temperature.  Then scoop out soft flesh; discard skin.

Roast the peppers under the broiler turning every few minutes so the peppers are charred on all sides.   Cover and cool to room temperature, then peel the peppers.  Discard seeds and chop.

Combine eggplant and peppers in a food processor.  Process until smooth.
Add vinegar, olive oil, garlic powder, paprika and red pepper flakes. Salt and pepper to taste; adjust spices to taste.

Serve cold as a salad or on toast points or crackers or stuffed into cherry tomatoes.

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