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Pasta with Creamy Ajvar Sauce & Sausage

A recipe from last weekend:

Penne with Creamy Ajvar Sauce & Sausage

1 lb. penne or other sturdy pasta
1 lb. or more of Italian sausages, or other sausages, or sausage meat
2 large cloves garlic, crushed & minced
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Tablespoon flour
1 cup light cream (actually used was 1/2 cup whipping cream and 1/2 cup 1% milk)
1 cup mild ajvar
1 teaspoon harissa (hot red pepper paste), or use red pepper flakes to taste

Cook sausages or sausage meat in oven or skillet and drain off the fat. Cut into fork-friendly pieces if needed. Set aside. Cook the pasta al dente, or to your personal taste, and drain. In the cooking pot, saute the garlic in butter and olive oil over medium heat for about 3 minutes. Add the flour and cook, stirring (a wire whisk is best), another 2 or 3 minutes till smooth, but don't let it brown. (You've now made a garlic-flavored white roux.) Stir in the cream (or milk/cream) slowly and cook, still stirring, till the sauce thickens. (You've now made a garlic-flavored white cream sauce.) Add the ajvar and harissa and stir till well blended into the sauce. Add the sausage and cook till heated through. You can serve separately from the pasta, or stir in the pasta, too.

Ajvar ("eye-vahr") is a Serbian/Croatian/Turkish/Moroccan red-pepper & eggplant relish/spread. It can be bought in specialty markets or online, or easily made at home. There are many online recipes but here's a compilation version:

Ajvar (Mild)

1 eggplant (1-2 lbs)
3 times as much weight in red peppers (either bell or long sweet or a mix)
3 cloves garlic, mashed/minced
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon juice or vinegar
salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut eggplant in quarters lengthwise. Cut red peppers in half and remove seeds. Use a lightly oiled baking sheet and put the red peppers on cut-side down, and put the eggplant on skin-side up. Roast till well cooked and at least somewhat charred, for about 30 minutes. Turn eggplant once about halfway through the cooking time. Remove from oven and put hot veggies inside a paper or heavy plastic bag and then close up, or put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, to let steam in their own heat as they cool. Leave them for no less than 10 minutes and as long as overnight. Remove from bag or bowl and peel off the skins from the eggplant and peppers. Mash the cooked vegetables together with a fork (if soft enough) or mince (if not quite) or use a food processor. It should not be completely smooth. Put in a pot with the garlic and lemon juice/vinegar and 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for at least an hour, adding more oil if the mix will absorb it and adding salt & pepper to taste. Cool & keep refrigerated. For a non-mild version, use some hot chili peppers with the other peppers and/or add red pepper flakes while simmering. Some recipes omit the simmering and add the rest of the ingredients directly to the mashed vegetables.

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Comments

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
goldsquare
Aug. 15th, 2008 06:42 pm (UTC)
Love Ajvar.

For a while, Trader Joes had one. Good, and inexpensive. Some of the ethnic markets may have them - including the Star Market (a long time ago) on Mount Auburn in Cambridge.
cimeara
Aug. 15th, 2008 07:13 pm (UTC)
Mine came from Tissa's Market in Connecticut. Great place for many things!
celtile
Aug. 15th, 2008 07:40 pm (UTC)

Doggie in the user pic liked it !
cimeara
Aug. 15th, 2008 07:53 pm (UTC)
Doggie in the user pic liked most everything. :-)
(Anonymous)
Dec. 15th, 2013 08:14 am (UTC)
If you used the best ajvar IMHO, made by Vava, in its "hot" version ( they also do mild) you could leave out the Harissa in the recipe as it's got plenty chilli already. If you haven't tried Vava you really should, it is spectacular. Guy (in New Zealand)
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )