Zacusca

Romanian Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Spread

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Course: Appetizers, SpreadCuisine: RomanianDifficulty: Hard
Servings

24

servings
Prep time

45

minutes
Cooking time

2

hours 
Calories

1656

kcal

Zacusca is a Romanian vegetable spread made primarily from roasted eggplant and red peppers. It is popularly served as a spread on bread, but also as a relish for meats.

Ingredients

  • 2 Medium Eggplants

  • 4 Large Red Bell Peppers

  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

  • 1 Medium White Onion, chopped

  • 2 Large Jalapeno Peppers

  • 1 Pound Fresh Tomato, diced

  • 1/2 Cup Sunflower Oil

  • 1 Bay Leaf

  • 1 Tbsp Honey (optional)

Directions

  • First, poke the eggplant flesh in several places with a knife (this allows steam to escape when cooking). Remove the stems from the peppers and core them. Slice them in half lengthwise.
  • Set the eggplant and red peppers onto a large foil-lined baking sheet. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. and bake the eggplant and peppers for 20 minutes, until the pepper skins char and bubble up. Remove the peppers and flip the eggplants. Continue to roast until the eggplants soften and blacken, another 20-25 minutes. Remove from heat.
  • When the peppers and eggplant are done, remove the pepper skins and discard them. Set them aside for now, covered. Scoop out the eggplant flesh and discard the skins. Place the eggplant flesh into a strainer and sprinkle with salt. Let the liquids drain out for 1 hour.
  • Add the drained eggplant and chili peppers to a blender or food processor and process until chunky.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pan and add the onion and jalapeno peppers (and/or serrano peppers, if you’re using them). Cook for 5 minutes, stirring, until everything softens up.
  • Add the processed eggplant and red peppers, fresh or canned tomatoes, sunflower oil, honey (if using), and salt and pepper. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer for at least 30 minutes, or until everything breaks down and combines into a thicker spread to your preferred thickness. I like to simmer 60-90 minutes to develop more flavor. If it dries out too much, add in a few tablespoons of water.
  • Remove the bay leaf and adjust for salt and pepper.
  • You can serve up your Zacusca right away or let is cool a bit and store it in sealed containers in the refrigerator. The flavors meld and develop over time, so it is usually better to wait.

Notes

  • Zacusca is traditionally serves as a spread with bread, but it’s also great warmed and tossed with cooked noodles. It puts a unique and flavorful spin on your favorite pasta dish.

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