Ajvar with red peppers, onions and cannellini beans.
Ajvar is popular throughout the Balkans. Originally from Serbia, it has spread all across the region. Made traditionally with roasted red peppers and roasted aubergines, it has variations, like the one here.
It can be spread on fresh bread, or like in this case with pita bread and garnishes, with a touch of olive oil. It can even be used in stews to enhance the flavour and thicken the sauce.
- Red peppers 500g
- Sweet long peppers 1kg
- Cannelini beans drained 400g
- Mild chilies 100g (optional)
- Onion 600g
- Celery 150g
- Vegetable oil 250ml
- 4 bayleafs
- 1/2 teaspoons ground fennel seeds (optional)
Heat the oil in a large pan to medium heat.
Chop the onions in a food processor until quite fine but not a paste. Sweat the onions in the oil for a few minutes (7-8) until soft but not colored.
Prepare in the same way all the peppers. They can be roasted for a better flavour, but in this recipe they work ok raw as well. Prepare the celery and chilies if used, same way. Add to the onions and bring to a gentle boil. Add the bay leaves. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the ground fennel if used.
Boil gently (don’t forget to stir quite often as the mixture thickens, it might catch on the bottom of the pan), take care not to get splashed by the boiling paste, for about 60 minutes.
Ten minutes before the end, add the cannellini beans (if used from a tin, if not they would need boiling until soft), and stir through.
Everything should be cooked by now, the ajvar should have a smooth taste and texture and the beans should be soft and buttery.
Leave to cool for a few minutes. Transfer in sterilised jars, then put these jars in the oven (preheated to 100C), on a baking tray for one hour, then leave to cool in the oven until cold.
The jars of ajvar can be stored in the fridge for weeks, but I doubt that they’ll last long, this recipe makes quite a large batch, so gift some to your relatives and friends to enjoy this amazing spread.