So I was at Trader Joe’s and sampled this roasted red pepper dip, it was really good! I knew right away I wanted to recreate it at home (I mean even though Trader Joe’s prices are reasonable, why spend $3-4 on a jar of dip that I could easily replicate at home, I mean we all know homemade is like a thousand times better right??) I tried to memorize the very simple ingredient list, red peppers, eggplant, garlic, some sort of oil, salt, and preservatives. I googled it when I got home to make sure I had it right and quickly discovered it’s a very common dip (I think middle eastern) known as Ajvar, lots of variations, I stuck with what I had tried at Trader Joe’s.
I got to work roasting veggies and making this dip. It was amazing! I think my husband wasn’t so much a fan, but I thought it was amazing! I could totally eat a whole baguette with this spread across it, but on a healthier attempt it’s also delicious with some veggie sticks, carrots, cucumbers, more bell peppers, etc… Some pita chips would delicious as well, it’s a really great multi-purpose dip or spread, so many things would go great with it.
This recipe makes a fairly small amount, maybe a cup and half? I should have measured. But it can easily be doubled or more.
3-4 Red Bell Peppers (depending on size)
1 medium Eggplant
1 head Garlic
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
Cut eggplant in half, score cut side diagonally in both directions. Rub salt into cut side, let sit for 30 minutes or so. Rinse salt off eggplant and squeeze excess moisture out. This step helps to get rid of some of the bitterness of the eggplant.
Preheat oven to 400.
Cut small slice off the top of the head of garlic, you can drizzle a small amount of olive oil in it if you want. On baking sheet place eggplant, garlic, and red bell peppers (whole). Bake at 400, the garlic and peppers should take around 40-45 min, but the eggplant will probably take close to an hour. Turn peppers about halfway through cooking time, pull peppers out when skin all around has nicely blackened and immediately put into a plastic bag, seal tightly. Let them steam in bag for 10-15 min, then the skin will basically fall right off. The papery part of the garlic head should be a crispy brown when it done and the eggplant skin should be starting to blacken when it’s done.
Once you have all the veggies roasted allow to cool enough to handle. Scoop the flesh of the eggplant out of the skin and place in a food processor. Pull the skin off the bell peppers, scrap out the seeds and add to the food processor. Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves into the food processor. Add salt and olive oil and pulse to combine, I like to keep it a little chunky, not too smooth.
Transfer dip to small saucepan, bring to simmer over medium low heat (ok, I bring it to a simmer over a medium high heat, stirring often, then turn down to a medium low because I am impatient.) simmer for 15-20 minutes allowing dip to caramelize a bit and flavors to blend. Add more salt to taste if desired, be careful, I added to much salt the first time for me!
Can be served immediately or store in refrigerator until ready to use.