This simple dish is a true representative of all the feels and tastes of coziness and comfort of a home cooked meal. Hearty and satisfying chickpea nuggets in one gorgeously creamy sauce based on ajvar, all laid on a gentle bed of polenta, create a beautiful fusion of flavours and textures that is heard to resist. The main star of the dish is the delicious ajvar with its mildly sweet and smokey aromas of roasted peppers that gave both the nuggets and the sauce that extra something that I can’t really describe in words that much. But that instantly brought me back to my Mom’s kitchen and her Sunday meals. And had my son claim that this was the best dish I made like in years.

Ajvar is largely known as a local delicacy, so delicious that is most often eaten just with a piece of bread or as a side dish. But ajvar can also be a superb ingredient used in a variety of dishes. From baked goods, to risottos, scrambled tofu (I adore this combination!), pasta, savory pancakes, veggie burgers, sauces or pretty much anything. Just a spoon or two of ajvar will give the dish such a rich depth of taste and aromas that it’s well worth a try. As a true pepper lover, I love adding ajvar to most of my dishes and it especially works well with plantbased burgers, nuggets and sauces. And in this dish, I used ajvar as the ingredient for the nuggets as well as the sauce. Not only for the richness of flavours, it also added to the texture, making the nuggets perfectly moist and sauce specially rich and creamy.

Ingredients you’ll need for about 6 servings:

Nuggets

  • 24og precooked chickpeas – I usually cook it in large batches then keep it frozen
  • 100g raw almonds
  • 2tbsp of ajvar – I use Granny’s Secret ajvar
  • 1tbsp of tahini paste
  • 1cup of fresh parsley
  • a pinch of: caraway seeds, cumin, salt, pepper
  • 30g quinoa flour – can be substituted with flax flour

Sauce

  • 1 smaller red onion
  • 2tbsp ajvar
  • 500g pure tomato pelati chunks sauce
  • 100ml soy cooking cream
  • 1tsp paprika powder
  • salt, pepper
  • a splash of balsamico glaze

Polenta

  • 800ml water
  • a good pinch of salt
  • 200g of polenta, best if you can avoid the instant one and use the whole cornmeal instead

Timing: some 40 minutes for the whole dish

Let’s cook!

To make the nuggets, start blending the chickpeas and almonds into a paste, add ajvar, tahini, parsley and spices and blend it all well. In the end mix in the flour and shape the balls, the quantity should be enough for about 20pcs. Fry on a mid heat in a bit of oil for a few minutes until golden brown. It’s that easy!

For the sauce, saute finely chopped onion in a bit of oil until translucent. Add ajvar and spices, mix it all well, then pop in the tomato chunks and soy cream. Bring to boil then reduce heat and leave to simmer for a few minutes. In the end drizzle a bit of balsamico glaze to neutralize the tomatoes acidity and leave aside.

To make the polenta, take a deeper dish, pour in the water, add salt and bring it just about it starts boiling. Then grab your favourite wooden spoon and start pouring the polenta gradually while mixing constantly. Reduce the heat and continue to cook while stirring for some 7 to 10 minutes. Be careful as pieces of the boiling polenta can jump out and make serious skin burns, so make sure the dish is deep enough and the heat low enough to prevent this from happening.

When done, just pour the hot polenta on a tray to cool it down, and place the nuggets and the sauce on top. Or serve it however you like. Enjoy!

Love, Jelena

If you liked this recipe, you may also love this yummy burger one or the another gorgeously creamy sweet potato and spinach dish. And for many more delicious recipes with ajvar, go check out ajvar.com