GF Vegan Homemade Ajvar (Roasted Red Pepper Spread)

January 15, 2021
Ajvar ( pronounced EYE-var), also called as zakuska at some places, is a treasure of the Balkans, particularly the cuisines of Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia, North Macedonia, and Romania. It goes by many names depending on who’s doing it and what’s added to the pot. Ajvar can taste mild and fruity or sharp and spicy. It might get a dose of chopped tomatoes or roast eggplant or even cheese. Though it’s made with oil, it’s mostly vegetable by mass, as healthy as a condiment could wish to be. But it’s also brilliant with hearty kebabs. Traditionally, the peppers are roasted over direct flame until their skins char and they collapse in on themselves, sweet and sticky; Once roasted, the peppers are seeded and skinned, then milled into a chunky paste. The purée is mixed with oil and stewed in large pots to drive off moisture and concentrate its flavor into a thick mash, which is mixed with salt and maybe vinegar or lemon juice, and packed in jars and sealed for the year to come.

You can eat ajvar all on its own with a spoon. Or add it to a plate with some green onions, vegan yogurt or vegan feta, bread, and you have a quick and tasty picnic for one. Other versions are ideal for spreading on slices of bread. In Bosnia they serve ajvar as a side to grilled meat and vegetables or kebabs; though cevapi—little fingers of ground meat seasoned with salt and garlic, then wrapped in fat and seared over a wood fire—are the real deal there. Which, of course has its vegan version, too, so you don't have to miss on anything.
vegan homemade ajvar; roasted pepper spread with crackers and nuts

GF Vegan Homemade Ajvar (Roasted Red Pepper Spread)

Recipe Type: Appetizers
utensils YIELDS 4-6
herb graphic for recipe card
  • 2 aubergines
  • 4 red bell peppers/ capers
  • 1 small chili pepper
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 full head garlic
  • salt, pepper
  • 1/2 dl olive oil
  • few drops lemon juice
        graphic for recipe card


1. Preheat your oven to 240°C (470°F)
Take a medium-sized baking tray and cover it with baking/parchment paper.

Prepare the veggies to bake:

2. Cut the aubergines in equal quarters, with a knife cut crosses on the top so when its baked you can remove the meat easier. Place the garlic in a foil, fill the foil with olive oil and close it on top. Place the aubergines, garlic in foil and a tomato on the baking tray. Spread olive oil on top of aubergines, sprinkle with salt.

3. Place the bell peppers on another baking tray and place the tray over the other tray with the aubergines. Bake them for about 20 mins or until veggies are baked and bell peppers are nice blackened. Once the peppers are done, place them on a plate, cover with foil and let it cool down.

4. While peppers are cooling, work on the other veggies: remove the meat of the aubergines with a spoon and place it in a blender. Remove the garlic from its skin and add to the aubergines with the tomato.
Once bell peppers are cold,  pull off their skins, remove seeds and top, and add to the blender.

5. Make a smooth blend,but just so much that it stays rustic, chunky. Transfer ajvar to a bowl, add olive oil, salt, pepper and a little dash of fresh lemon juice. Whisk it well together and leave in the fridge for a few hours to cool.

Also see: Vegan Hungarian Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

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Photo: Imola Toth

Imola is a Hatha and Ashtanga yoga teacher, tree planter and writer and editor of Raised by the Wolf, an online magazine for Wild Women, with a passion for exploring and life outdoors. Originally from Hungary but currently planting trees and rewilding the enchanting forests of France. Hop over to RBTW magazine, and blog and follow her on Instagram @yogiraisedbythewolf


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