$10 Recipe Chicken and Poultry Dairy Free Dinners Dairy-Free Recipes Dinner

Ajvar Meatballs with Zesty Tomato Sauce

Tender and juicy in the middle and seasoned to perfection, you are going to love these Ajvar meatballs simmered in a zesty tomato sauce. Serve them with quinoa, rice, or hoagie rolls.

It costs $8.42 to make four servings of these meatballs. That works out to be about $2.10 per serving. 

Be sure to also try my Blackened Chicken Meatballs for another tasty meatball recipe. 

A fork picking up one of the Ajvar Meatballs with a bite taken out of it.

Ajvar is a thick and savory sauce consisting of roasted sweet red peppers, eggplant, onion, and garlic. It’s used in places like Southeast Europe, Albania, Bosnia, and Bulgaria, just to name a few.

There are many different types of Ajvar, but one thing is for sure, it’s absolutely delicious. Let’s make tasty some meatballs.

Ingredients and Cost

RECIPE COST: $8.42

PRICE PER SERVING: $2.10

  • 1 pound ground chicken – $0.57
  • 1 cup ajvar – $3.28
  • ¼ cup chopped dill – $1.28
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley – $0.22
  • ½ teaspoon cumin – $0.03
  • ½ teaspoon coriander – $0.09
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt – $0.02
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika – $0.10
  • ⅓ cup flour – $0.11
  • ½ cup ajvar – $1.64
  • 1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce – $1.08

NOTE: The recipe prices are calculated by using grocery store websites. The actual cost of the recipe will vary depending on what ingredients you already have.

Instructions

STEP 1: Add Ajvar to ground chicken or Turkey.

You can use ground chicken or ground Turkey. You don’t even have to make Ajvar from scratch. I purchased my jar of Ajvar from my favorite Mediterranean market. It’s salty, a little spicy, and has the perfect amount of sweetness.

A picture showing how to make Ajvar Meatballs.

STEP 2: Add the egg, herbs, and spices.

Add in the fresh herbs and spices like dill and cumin. Mix until a beautiful red color forms. Next, we will add a binder.

All of the meatball ingredients added to a mixing bowl before they're mixed together.

STEP 3: add a binder like flour.

I have a thing for banana flour. It’s really soft in texture and doesn’t really add any flavor. Feel free to use quinoa, all-purpose, or oat flour.

The meat mixture before the flour is added to it.

STEP 4: form into meatballs and sauté until golden brown.

Measure each meatball the same size so that they all finish cooking at the same time.

I like to use my handy tablespoon to scoop out the meat and form them. Use what you have on hand.

Add olive oil or avocado oil into the pan first to create those beautiful brown sear marks.

The meatballs cooking in the pot.

STEP 5: add the zest tomato sauce.

Season the tomato sauce with salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a lit bit of Ajvar before adding it to the pot.

The meatballs cooked in the pot.

After the meatballs are cooked, I like to sprinkle in a little bit of fresh chopped parsley.

A wooden spoon picking up one of the Ajvar Meatballs.

I’m drooling over here!

Storage Tips

SERVE: You can keep the meatballs out for about two hours before they need to be stored in the fridge.

STORE: Store the Ajvar meatballs in an air-tight container for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.

FREEZE: Freeze in a freezer-safe bag or container for up to 3 months.

Recipe FAQs

Should you brown meatballs before putting in sauce?

Yes, you will want to brown the meatballs first to ensure they reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. After browning the meatballs, you can then add in the sauce.

What is ajvar used for?

Ajvar is a savory sauce made with roasted sweet peppers, eggplant, onion, and garlic that serves as a beautiful way to enhance and enrich the taste of meats. It accentuates the meaty aroma as well as adds a fresh sweet taste.

More Chicken and Poultry Recipes

5 from 5 votes
A fork picking up one of the Ajvar Meatballs with a bite taken out of it.
Ajvar Meatballs
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

Juicy Ajvar meatballs simmered in a zest tomato sauce. Meal-prep them. Put them into the freezer or eat them right away. You will want to make them again and again.

Course: dinner
Cuisine: European-American
Keyword: chicken
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 339 kcal
Jillian: Jillian
Ingredients
For the meatballs
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 cup ajvar
  • ¼ cup chopped dill
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ½ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • pepper to taste
  • cup flour of your choice banana, quinoa, all-purpose, etc.
Zesty Tomato Sauce
  • ½ cup ajvar
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce (make sure it is your favorite tomato sauce, as the tomato sauce will be the dominating flavor.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a large mixing bowl, add the ground chicken, ajvar, egg, dill, parsley, and all the spices, salt, and pepper and mix until everything is well incorporated.
  2. Next, add the flour of choice. Mix once more until everything is mixed well.
  3. When ready, form the meat mixture into meatballs with your hands. If the meat mixture is too sticky, wet your hand with water.

  4. In a skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil (just a drizzle) and place each meatball on the surface of the pan. Cook until the bottom of the meatball is golden brown (about 2-3 minutes). Flip the meatballs and repeat them. The internal temperature of the meatballs should reach 165°F.
  5. Once the meatballs are golden brown, add the tomato sauce, ajvar, ½ cups of water, salt, and pepper to taste and gently stir to incorporate the ingredients. Cook on medium-low heat for about 15-20 minutes.

TO SERVE:
  1. Place the meatballs over a bed of buttery rice, alongside quinoa, or inside a rustic Italian bread to create an ajvar marinara meatball sub. The options are endless, do whatever makes you happy! 🙂

Recipe Video

Recipe Notes

***I used banana flour in this recipe to keep it gluten-free. 

Nutrition Facts
Ajvar Meatballs
Amount per Serving
Calories
339
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
11
g
17
%
Saturated Fat
 
3
g
19
%
Trans Fat
 
1
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
5
g
Cholesterol
 
98
mg
33
%
Sodium
 
1233
mg
54
%
Potassium
 
1413
mg
40
%
Carbohydrates
 
42
g
14
%
Fiber
 
3
g
13
%
Sugar
 
14
g
16
%
Protein
 
26
g
52
%
Vitamin A
 
1334
IU
27
%
Vitamin C
 
31
mg
38
%
Calcium
 
61
mg
6
%
Iron
 
4
mg
22
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
The finished recipe with text overlay for Pinterest.

5 Comments

  1. These meatballs were so tender and full of flavor. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. These meatballs look delicious! What a great idea to use ajvar for more flavor.

  3. Dannii says:

    Meatballs are total comfort food and this sauce looks amazing.

  4. Caroline says:

    Those flavors sound so tasty – and comforting too. Yum!

  5. I made this for family that was visiting and it was a real winner! Thanks for the wonderful recipe. 🙂

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