Traditional Romanian Zacusca Spread Generously on a Slice of Crusty Bread.

Romanian Eggplant Stew (Zacusca)


Video Recipe


Zacusca, a name that resonates deeply within the heart of every Romanian. This traditional dish, often referred to as an eggplant stew, has its roots deeply embedded in the rich culinary history of Romania. Originating from the rural heartlands, it has now found its way to the dining tables of urban households and even international restaurants. Its significance in Romanian cuisine is unparalleled, serving not just as a dish but as a testament to the country’s rich heritage and the warmth of its people.

What is Zacusca?

For those unfamiliar with the term, Zacusca is more than just an eggplant stew. It’s a symphony of flavors, primarily made from roasted eggplants and red peppers. But what sets it apart is the meticulous preparation method and the love with which it’s made. The main ingredients include grilled eggplants, red peppers, tomatoes, onions, and a blend of spices that give it its unique taste.

But beyond its ingredients, the cultural significance of Zacusca in Romania is profound. It’s not just a dish; it’s an emotion. Every jar of Zacusca tells a story – of grandmothers preparing it in large quantities during autumn, of families coming together to share a meal, and of the warmth of Romanian hospitality. It’s a dish that has been passed down through generations, and every family has its own secret recipe.

Ingredients You’ll Need

Zacusca Ingredients.
  • Grilled Eggplants – 7 kilograms or 15 pounds
  • Grilled Peppers – 4 kilograms or 9 pounds
  • Fresh Tomatoes / Tomato Juice / Mix of Tomato Juice, Bullion – 3 kilograms or 6 pounds and a half
  • Onions – 2 kilograms or 4 pounds and a half
  • Sunflower Oil – 850 ml or 3 cups and a half
  • Spicy Peppers – As per taste
  • Salt – 4 tablespoons
  • Peppercorns – As per taste
  • Pepper – As per taste
  • Bay Leaves – As per taste

How to Make Romanian Zacusca

1. Mincing the Eggplants

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.

Use a knife, wood cleaver, or kitchen robot to mince the grilled eggplants. For smaller quantities, a ceramic knife is ideal to prevent oxidation.

2. Pepper Preparation

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.

Chop the grilled peppers into small cubes to retain visible pieces in the stew.

3. Tomato Processing

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.

Peel the tomatoes and blend them into a juice. It’s recommended to remove the skin for a smoother texture.

4. Handling Spicy Peppers

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.

Clean the spicy peppers, removing the seeds, and chop them finely.

5. Onion Preparation

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.

Prepare the onions by finely chopping them.

6. Cooking Begins

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.

Heat the sunflower oil in a large pot. Fry the onions for 7-10 minutes on medium heat.

7. Tomato and Onion Fusion

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.

Add the tomatoes to the onions and cook them together for another 10-15 minutes.

8. Introducing Spicy Peppers

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.

Add the finely chopped spicy peppers to the mix and let them simmer for a few minutes.

9. Eggplant Addition

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.

Introduce the minced grilled eggplants to the pot and cook for around 20 minutes, stirring continuously.

10. Pepper Integration

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.

After 20 minutes, add the chopped grilled peppers and mix well.

11. Final Touches

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.

Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes, then add the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly and let the stew boil for another 1.5 hours on low heat, ensuring regular stirring.

12. Preserving and Serving

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.

Once cooked, the Zacusca can be served immediately or preserved. For preserving, transfer the stew into jars and proceed boiling them in bain-marie for 15 minutes.

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Zacusca?

Zacusca is a traditional Romanian spread made primarily from grilled eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes. It’s often preserved in jars and enjoyed throughout the year.

How is Zacusca typically served?

Zacusca is commonly spread on crusty bread, but it can also be used as a complement to main dishes or as a dip for vegetables.

What makes Zacusca unique compared to other spreads?

Zacusca stands out due to its rich combination of grilled vegetables, which gives it a distinct smoky flavor. Its Romanian origin and traditional preparation methods also add to its uniqueness.

Can Zacusca be made with other vegetables?

While the primary ingredients are eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes, there are variations of Zacusca that use zucchini, mushrooms, or other peppers, leading to different flavors and textures.

How long can preserved Zacusca last?

When properly preserved in sterilized jars and stored in a cool, dark place, Zacusca can last for several months. Once opened, it’s best to refrigerate and consume within a week.


Additional Zacusca Recipes

Traditional Romanian Zacusca Spread on Bread.

Romanian Zacusca – Eggplant Stew

Yield: 250
Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Cook Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
Additional Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 4 hours 5 minutes

Zacusca is a cherished culinary gem from the heart of Romania, a luscious spread brimming with the rich flavors of grilled eggplants, peppers, and tomatoes. This traditional stew, often referred to as an eggplant stew, is a testament to Romania's rich agricultural heritage and its people's knack for preserving the bounties of the harvest season. With a creamy texture and a harmonious blend of spices, Zacusca offers a delightful taste experience that bridges the gap between a hearty winter comfort food and a gourmet spread. Whether you're spreading it on a slice of crusty bread or using it as a complement to main dishes, Zacusca is a Romanian delicacy that promises a journey of flavors with every bite.

Ingredients

  • Grilled Eggplants – 7 kilograms or 15 pounds
  • Grilled Peppers – 4 kilograms or 9 pounds
  • Fresh Tomatoes / Tomato Juice / Mix of Tomato Juice, Bullion – 3 kilograms or 6 pounds and a half
  • Onions – 2 kilograms or 4 pounds and a half
  • Sunflower Oil – 850 ml or 3 cups and a half
  • Spicy Peppers – As per taste
  • Salt – 4 tablespoons
  • Peppercorns – As per taste
  • Pepper – As per taste
  • Bay Leaves – As per taste

Instructions

1. Mincing the Eggplants

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.Use a knife, wood cleaver, or kitchen robot to mince the grilled eggplants. For smaller quantities, a ceramic knife is ideal to prevent oxidation.

2. Pepper Preparation

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.Chop the grilled peppers into small cubes to retain visible pieces in the stew.

3. Tomato Processing

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.Peel the tomatoes and blend them into a juice. It’s recommended to remove the skin for a smoother texture.

4. Handling Spicy Peppers

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.Clean the spicy peppers, removing the seeds, and chop them finely.

5. Onion Preparation

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.Prepare the onions by finely chopping them.

6. Cooking Begins

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.Heat the sunflower oil in a large pot. Fry the onions for 7-10 minutes on medium heat.

7. Tomato and Onion Fusion

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.Add the tomatoes to the onions and cook them together for another 10-15 minutes.

8. Introducing Spicy Peppers

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.Add the finely chopped spicy peppers to the mix and let them simmer for a few minutes.

9. Eggplant Addition

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.Introduce the minced grilled eggplants to the pot and cook for around 20 minutes, stirring continuously.

10. Pepper Integration

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.After 20 minutes, add the chopped grilled peppers and mix well.

11. Final Touches

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.Let the mixture simmer for a few minutes, then add the remaining ingredients. Mix thoroughly and let the stew boil for another 1.5 hours on low heat, ensuring regular stirring.

12. Preserving and Serving

Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.Once cooked, the Zacusca can be served immediately or preserved. For preserving, transfer the stew into jars and proceed boiling them in bain-marie for 15 minutes.Process Shots Showing How to Make Eggplant Stew: Zacusca.

Notes

  1. Zacusca is often referred to as “eggplant stew” or “Romanian vegetable spread.”
  2. It's a traditional Romanian dish, especially popular among tourists.
  3. Zacusca is typically prepared in large quantities during the autumn for preserving.
  4. Homemade Zacusca offers a richer flavor and creamier texture compared to store-bought versions.
  5. The weight of grilled eggplants and peppers is roughly half of their original fresh weight.
  6. Zacusca can be made with different main ingredients, leading to variations like pepper stew, zucchini stew, or mushroom stew.
  7. Ensure continuous stirring during cooking to prevent sticking and burning.
  8. For a smoother texture, it's recommended to peel the tomatoes before blending.
  9. Remove seeds from spicy peppers to control heat and prevent potential fermentation.
  10. Zacusca can be preserved in jars using a bain-marie process for 15 minutes.
  11. Best enjoyed spread on crusty bread or as a complement to main dishes.
  12. Zacusca has a rich color, with the possibility of seeing tiny pieces of grilled peppers if chopped instead of blended.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 250 Serving Size: 30
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 41Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 107mgCarbohydrates: 4gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 1g

The nutritional information provided is approximate and for reference purposes only. Actual values may vary due to factors such as product brands, preparation methods, and ingredient substitutions. The provided values may not include all nutrients and should not be relied upon as the sole source of nutritional information. Always read product labels and consider individual factors when making dietary choices. We are not responsible for any inaccuracies or adverse effects resulting from the use of this information.

Did you make this recipe?

Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Pinterest

Author

  • Diana

    Hey! I’m Diana. a 30-year-old culinary enthusiast with a passion for creating mouthwatering dishes that tantalize your taste buds. With over 15 years of cooking experience under my apron, I’ve spent countless hours in the kitchen honing my skills, experimenting with flavors, and discovering the most delectable recipes.

Spread the love

Posted

in

by

Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Skip to Recipe