As versatile as ketchup, this smoky, sweet, and savory condiment known as ajvar was adapted from one served at Tim Wiechmann’s now-defunct Playska, a Balkan-style sandwich shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Featured in: “International Schmear: The Ketchup and Mayo of the Balkans.”

Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant Sauce (Ajvar) Ajvar (Roasted Pepper and Eggplant Spread)
This Balkan spread is a smoky, sweet and savory condiment as versatile as ketchup.
Yield: makes 3 cups
Time: 30 minutes


  • 4 large red bell peppers, stemmed, seeded, and quartered
  • large eggplant, trimmed and halved lengthwise
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 500°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. Arrange the peppers and eggplant halves skin-side-up on the lined-baking sheet. Scatter the garlic around the vegetables, then drizzle with the olive oil and season lightly with salt. Bake until the peppers and eggplant are lightly charred, about 15 minutes. Set aside at room temperature to cool slightly.
  3. Transfer the cooled vegetables to a food processor and purée until smooth. Season to taste with more salt as needed. Use immediately or spoon the sauce into an airtight container, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

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