Ajvar Balkan Grilled Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip

This bright red dip will be a welcome addition to your table

Photo: lechatnoir / Getty Images

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Scads of grilled red peppers give this dip, known as ajvar (pronounced eye-var), a bright, reddish-orange hue. Some have described this popular spread as holding a space in Balkan cuisine not unlike that of hummus in the Mediterranean – and, also like hummus, there are some competing stories about where, exactly, ajvar was invented and who makes the very best version. Eggplant appears in many versions, particularly in Macedonian traditions, but others use only peppers. We like the addition of eggplant, but we’ll let you decide on your own favorite.


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Eggplant and Chickpea Pitas

Ajvar Balkan Grilled Eggplant and Red Pepper Dip



  • 4 globe or Asian eggplants (2 lb.)
  • 5 red bell peppers (2 lb.)
  • 2 red Fresno or red jalapeño chiles, optional
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, divided (2 tsp.)
  • Chopped Italian parsley, for garnish
  • Black cured olives, for garnish, optional


1. Prepare grill with medium-hot coals, or preheat broiler. Prick each eggplant 6 times with fork. Grill eggplants 40 minutes or broil 30 minutes, or until skins blacken and eggplants look collapsed. Cool 10 minutes.

2. Grill or broil bell peppers 15 minutes, or until skins are blackened and blistered all over, turning every 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl, and cover tightly.

3. Grill or broil chiles (if using) 3 minutes, or until most of skins blacken. Transfer to bowl, and cover tightly.

4. Halve eggplants, and scoop out flesh, removing and discarding caps, seeds, and skins. Chop remaining eggplant flesh. (You should have about 2 cups.)

5. Peel, halve, and chop bell peppers and chiles, discarding caps and seeds. 6. Stir together chopped eggplant flesh, bell peppers, and 2 tsp. chiles in bowl. Add vinegar, oil, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper, if desired. Let stand 1 hour for flavors to meld. Serve drizzled with oil and garnished with chopped parsley and olives (if using).

Nutrition Information

  • Calories 86
  • Carbohydrate Content 12 g
  • Cholesterol Content 0 mg
  • Fat Content 5 g
  • Fiber Content 4 g
  • Protein Content 2 g
  • Saturated Fat Content 0.5 g
  • Sodium Content 4 mg
  • Sugar Content 6 g
From 2013