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Zacusca Recipe (Romanian Roasted Egglplant and Red Pepper Spread)
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5 from 6 votes

Zacusca Recipe – Romanian Roasted Eggplant and Red Pepper Spread

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. Learn how to make it with Chili Pepper Madness.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time2 hrs 15 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Course, sauce
Cuisine: American, Middle Eastern
Keyword: bell peppers, eggplant, red pepper, roasted peppers, Romanian, spread
Servings: 24
Calories: 69kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 medium eggplants aka aubergines
  • 4 large red bell peppers
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion chopped
  • 2 jalapeno peppers optional, or use a serrano pepper or 2 for a spicier version
  • 1 pound fresh tomatoes diced (canned tomatoes are good, too, or even tomato sauce)
  • ½ cup sunflower oil you can use olive oil or other vegetable oil
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon honey optional
  • Salt and pepper to taste I use about 1 teaspoon each

Instructions

  • 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.
  • FOR GRILLING: Heat the grill to medium heat and lightly oil the grates. Set the eggplant and red peppers (skin sides uonto the grates and close the lid. Grill 20 minutes, or until the red pepper skins bubble up and char. Remove them. Continue to grill the eggplant, flipping every few minutes to get an even char on the skins and the flesh is softened up, another 20 minutes or so. Remove from heat.
  • FOR BAKING: Set the eggplant and red peppers onto a large foil-lined baking sheet.
  • Heat oven to 400 degrees and bake the egglplant 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.

Notes

Can be enjoyed right away or cooled and stores in sealed containers in the refrigerator. The flavors meld and develop over time. This is a popular recipe for canning.
Makes about 1.5 quarts.
HONEY: Zacusca can have a slightly bitter flavor, which can be offset with a bit of honey, if desired.

Nutrition

Serving: 0.25cup | Calories: 69kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 3mg | Potassium: 184mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 800IU | Vitamin C: 30mg | Calcium: 8mg | Iron: 1mg