Roasted Ajvar Salsa over Grilled Polenta

Roasted Ajvar Salsa over Grilled Polenta
Roasted Ajvar Salsa over Grilled Polenta

Almost every weekend you can find me out on the patio grilling family-sized bags of bell peppers, huge packs of whole portobello mushrooms and in-season vegetables to use throughout the week for various recipes. In my house, a Grilled Vegetable Pita with a little Garden Cream Cheese Spread can make me weak in the knees!!

We came across this recipe and could not pass up the opportunity to try this savory, delicious Old-World salsa. Ajvar is a Serbian salsa made with roasted red peppers, eggplant and garlic. It's often offered as a street food, prepared outdoors on the streets of Belgrade. During the crisp fall months, the smoky scent of roasting peppers wafts in the air. Sometimes referred to as "Serbian caviar", Ajvar can be served as a relish with crusty bread or as a spread or other condiment with crackers or crudites. Toss into fresh cooked pasta with black olives and basil for a quick and tasty dish. We served ours over grilled polenta so it could be eaten as an appetizer or light meal.

You can use La Vera Smoked Sweet Paprika instead of La Vera Smoked Hot Paprika if you want to keep this dish on the mild side. We also opted to use Aleppo Pepper as our choice of pepper flake to get a more mellow heat with fruity and earthy undertones and just a hint of salty vinegar.

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Ingredients:
Instructions:
  1. Preheat grill to high heat
  2. Wash and cut the peppers from stem to bottom and remove the stems, seeds and white membranes.
  3. Wash the eggplant and slice it in half longways. Lightly score the flesh with a pairing knife. Brush with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.
  4. Lay each 1/2 pepper on a cutting board, cut side down and flatten it with the back of your hand. This will help the pepper get better contact with the heat on the grill.
  5. Reduce the heat to medium high and place the eggplant flesh side down on the hot grill. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side until the eggplant becomes tender and cooked through.
  6. Tear a piece of foil large enough for the polenta and spray lightly with pan spray.
  7. Place the foil on the grill and place polenta on top. Grill about 4 minutes on each side until they are warm and slightly crispy.
  8. Remove eggplant and polenta from grill to a cutting board to cool.
  9. Place the peppers skin side down on the grill and let them cook until the skins start to blister and blacken.
  10. Transfer the peppers to a large bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the peppers to cool. The steam will make the peppers easier to peel.
  11. When the eggplant is cool, scoop out the flesh and and transfer to food processor. Add olive oil and California Roasted Minced Garlic and process until smooth.
  12. When peppers are cool, peel off the blistered skin, cut them into strips and add them to the food processor.
  13. Add vinegar, La Vera Smoked Hot Paprika, and Aleppo Pepper to the food processor. Pulse several times to achieve the desired consistency.
  14. Each serving is 2 slices of polenta and 2 Tablespoons of the salsa.
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