BaltimOregon to Maine

Locavore Cooking with Southern Efficiency and Northern Charm

Posts Tagged ‘avjar

Muhammara (Another Great Red Pepper Dip!)

with one comment

Paula Wolfert's Muhammara.

How I’ve missed blogging, but somehow haven’t been up it. I’m halfway through my first pregnancy, pregnant with a boy(!) we just learned. That might explain why I didn’t have too much morning sickness and always felt like eating first trimester? Unfortunately, second trimester has surprisingly so far been more of a slog.

But I wanted to write to sing the praises of muhammara, another great roasted red pepper (with walnuts and pomegranate) dip that apparently hails from Syria. I fell in love with this recipe we just had from Paula Wolfert’s The Cooking of the Eastern Mediterranean. Dan’s former department chair prepared it as part of a delicious Middle Eastern spread she put together for a visiting economist from Turkey. Shawna and her husband, Rolf, sure know how to entertain. They’re especially known for their Scandinavian delicacies–gravalax, pickled herring, fresh currant-infused aquavit, home-smoked duck. Rolf is from Sweden. He even grows pinot noir grapes, which he bottles into a coveted “Grapes of Rolf” vintage. A case or two of his wine has been known to woo job candidates here.

Back to muhammara. Like avjar, it has an addictive tang that pairs so well with pita and goat cheese or feta. If you, like me, try to avoid imported bell peppers this time of year (apart from the carbon footprint, they have that off, less-than-fresh taste), just substitute jarred roasted red peppers instead. Why bother roasting peppers out of season anyway? For another muhammara variation, check out this one from Ivy Manning in the current issue of Portland’s MIX. Pomegranate molasses is a key ingredient that you’ll enjoy having around for salad dressings. I believe Corvallis cookbook author Jan Roberts-Dominguez also has a muhammara recipe (with hazelnuts instead of walnuts) in her new Oregon Hazelnut Country cookbook.

Written by baltimoregon

February 8, 2011 at 10:35 pm

Awesome End-of-Season Avjar (Roasted Red Pepper and Eggplant Dip)

with 3 comments

Sweet peppers and eggplant roasting on my gas burners.


For weeks, I’ve been meaning to post this delicious recipe for tangy, smokey avjar, the Balkan roasted red pepper and eggplant dip that’s known as “Serbian salsa.” At least we still have some local peppers and eggplants at markets here, thanks to an unusually late summer harvest that was otherwise miserable for farmers.

Avjar: The tangy, smokey finished product, all blended up.

I first encountered the spread at Ziba’s Pitas, a favorite (and the only) Bosnian food cart in Southwest Portland. Unfortunately, apparently she uses the jarred version. Hey, at least Ziba makes her own dough for the flaky, stuffed pitas.

Reading about Vanessa Barrington’s new D.I.Y. Delicious cookbook inspired me to make the dip (scroll down for the recipe). It’s easy to roast the peppers and eggplant on your stove-top if they are powered by gas. Of course, roasting does make a bit of a charred mess on the burners that your husband may complain about later. But avjar is worth it. Feel free to adjust the ratio of red pepper to eggplant in the recipe. I like mine more red peppery (sweeter) than I made it last time, and I see some recipes, like the Julia Mitric’s one for NPR, call for more peppers. And don’t worry about not having Aleppo pepper. I’m pleased with the results I’ve gotten using regular paprika. Then there are recommended ways to preserve avjar, like they do in the old country. But I’m not sure how the food safety behind this approach would check out. I decided to just freeze some (that hadn’t been cooked to death first)  instead.

Avjar is a great appetizer spread to put out, perhaps alongside some homemade hummus, when you have people over. I love it slathered on crusty French bread and topped with a crumble of goat cheese or feta for creamy contrast. I’ve also been known to eat it by the spoonful right out of the bowl.

I like it served as brushetta, on toasted French bread, with a little crumbled feta on top.

Thank you, Mrs. Eggplant Head!

Written by baltimoregon

November 5, 2010 at 6:33 pm

%d bloggers like this: