Zacuscă is a vegetable spread very popular in Romania. The main ingredients are roasted eggplant or cooked beans, roasted red peppers (belonging to a local cultivar called "gogoşari") and chopped onion. North America "gogosari" equate with pimento peppers and are available in farmer markets late in the summer. Some add tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, beans, or celery. Other ingredients are also added according to taste, including spices. Every cook seems to have his/her own recipe. Traditionally, a family will cook a large quantity of it after the fall harvest and preserve it in sterilized jars. It can be eaten as a relish or spread, typically on bread. It is said to improve in taste after some months of maturing but must be used within days of opening. The word zacuscă is of Slavic origin and originally means simply snack or appetizer. The Slavic root of the word indicates tasty, delicious, or to bite. Ajvar, a similar relish from Serbia and Montenegro. Lutenica, another similar relish from the Balkans. Biber salçası, a Turkish spread made from red peppers alone. (source:wikipedia)
As a child I did not even want to try this spread. Getting older and wiser?! I started to love it. It is years ago that I ate it the last time, so ,having my parents here for visit, I asked my mom to teach me how to prepare it. I am really happy to have her recipe so now I can prepare it anytime I want to.
5 huge eggplants
2 "gogosari" pepper
800 g tomato
4 medium onions
300 ml oil
2-3 bay leaves
salt, pepper, sugar
Slice tomato, add 1 teaspoon salt and sugar, 150 ml water and cook it, puree and set aside.
Cook egg plant over fire or in the oven and the peppers. Peel both and puree paprika. With a help of a flat wooden "spoon" chop egg plant and set aside. Heat 150 ml oil, add chopped onion and cook on low heat for 25-30 minutes or until soft. Add paprika puree and cook for another 10 minutes. Add eggplant and the rest of the oil. Mix well with salt, pepper and bay leaves (about 4 tablespoon salt, 1 1/2 tablespoon pepper). Add about 500 ml tomato puree. Stirring constantly cook for 50 minutes or until the top is nice and shiny. Fill in jars, and let it cool covered with clothes.