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3 slices of baguette on a cutting board with zacusca spread on them
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4.67 from 15 votes

Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Spread

Roasted Eggplant and Pepper Spread (Zacusca) – the most delicious vegetable spread. Worth the effort, this is the perfect snack or appetizer that's extremely popular in Eastern Europe!
Prep Time3 hrs
Cook Time3 hrs 30 mins
Total Time6 hrs 30 mins
Course: Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine: Romanian
Keyword: eggplant spread, roasted eggplant and roasted pepper spread, zacusca
Servings: 48
Calories: 229kcal

Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 pounds eggplant grilled until charred
  • 4 1/2 pounds capia peppers or red bell peppers, grilled until charred
  • 4 1/2 pounds pimento peppers grilled until charred
  • 2 pounds onions chopped
  • 3 cups vegetable oil
  • 6 cups tomato sauce
  • 3 tablespoon salt or to taste
  • 2 tablespoon black pepper ground
  • 5 bay leaves

Instructions

Prep Ingredients

  • Grill Eggplants: To grill the eggplants, make sure to poke holes in them with a knife, so they don’t explode! Grill them until soft and charred. They will take a good 30-45 minutes to get a nice char on them. Transfer them to a bowl and let them cool completely. Remove the peel, using a knife – if you’ve cooked them enough, the peel should come off easily. Try and get them as clean as possible with no char bits on them. Place them in a colander over a bowl and let them drain for a few minutes.
  • Grill the Peppers: Grill the peppers, or roast them in the oven until they are almost completely charred. Let them cool completely. There are a couple ways to remove the peel. You can either peel them under running water or place them in a bowl with about a tbsp of salt. Cover them with a lid and let them rest for about 20 minutes. After 20 minutes the peel should come off quite easily. Peel them and remove all the seeds from them. Also place the peppers in a colander over a bowl and let them drain for a few minutes.
  • Chop: The next step you can do in small batches, depends how big your food processor is! Place some eggplant into the food processor and pulse a few times until the eggplant is finely chopped, but do not pulse it too much, you don’t want it to look like a paste. Repeat the same with the peppers.

Make The Spread

  • Cook Onions: In a very large pot heat the oil and add the onions. Cook the onions until soft, make sure not to burn them. They should just start to change color.
  • Add Ingredients & Cook: Carefully add the eggplant and peppers and stir using a wooden spoon. Next, add tomato sauce, then add the salt, black pepper and bay leaves. This will require 3 hours of cooking over low to medium heat, stirring occasionally (I stirred every 10 minutes, just so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom).

Sterilize Jars

  • Prep The Jars: Wash the jars with soap in scalding water. Put jars in a water-bath canner or on a rack set in a deep pot and cover with hot water.Bring water to a boil and boil jars, covered, 15 minutes from time steam emerges from pot. Turn off the heat and let them stand in hot water.
  • Place Jars in Oven: Just before the spread is ready to be canned, place the jars (lids off) in the oven at 350F degrees for 10 minutes.
  • Fill The Jars: Take them out and carefully fill the jars with zacusca, leaving about an inch left from the top. Place the lid onto the rim and, using one finger to hold the lid securely, twist on the screw band until it’s tight.
  • Finish And Let The Jars Cool: Once this is done with all the jars, place them back in the oven and continue baking for another 15 minutes; after which you can turn off the oven, and let them cool in there for a few hours.

Notes

  1. The quantities listed in the recipe is what you need after the eggplants and peppers have been roasted and cleaned – not before! To get 5.5 lbs of roasted eggplant, you should probably double that when you purchase them, same with the peppers. If you forget this, don't worry, you'll just end up with less spread, this recipe is very forgiving.
  2. This recipe will fill 12 jars (500ml each).
  3. Nutritional information is based on 1/4 cup. 

Nutrition

Serving: 0.5cup | Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 21g | Saturated Fat: 16g | Sodium: 887mg | Potassium: 430mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 2804IU | Vitamin C: 113mg | Calcium: 21mg | Iron: 1mg