Woodfired zacuska is a delicious vegetable paste inspired by our travels in Romania where we first ate it and loved it. A delicious roast and slightly smokey vegetable paste made from aubergines, tomatoes, peppers, onions and courgettes and scented with bay leaves.Great for using up a glut from the garden or greenhouse.
Here is how we made it –
2 aubergines, pricked
3 red peppers, pricked
1 courgette, peeled if green and chopped into 1/2cm cubes
3 white onions, peeled and chopped
4 bay leaves
5 cloves garlic, peeled and finely sliced
1 tin chopped tomatoes or 450g chopped ripe tomatoes
100ml sunflower oil
Salt & Pepper
Oven at 2 Mississippi for blackening the vegetables; 4 Mississippi for cooking the zacuska
- Put the aubergines and peppers in a large wide pan and blacken them in the oven.
- Take them out of the oven and put them in a large bowl. Cover them with a bowl of the same size so the condensation loosens the skins and makes them easier to peel.
- When the aubergines and peppers are cool enough to handle, take off the skin. Squeeze the aubergines to get rid of most of the juice and take the seeds out of the pepper. Discard the black skins, juice and seeds. Chop the flesh roughly.
- Mix the onions, courgette, bay leaves and sliced garlic with the oil and season well. Put in a large wide pan and cook gently in the cooler oven until completely tender but not coloured. We use our Netherton Foundry Prospector pan which has a lid we can put on if the oven is still too hot.
- When the onions and courgettes are tender, stir in the cooked aubergines and peppers and the chopped tomatoes.
- Add a little more seasoning and 150ml water. Bring to a simmer and cook gently until the mixture has thickened so that you can draw a wooden spoon across the base and leave a channel for a few seconds.
- Sterilize 3-4 jam jars with lids while your vegetables are cooking by washing them in hot soapy water and then putting them in a cool oven (100C) to dry for 15 minutes.
- Put the hot vegetable mixture in a food processor but take the bay leaves out first. Whizz until smooth and pour the mixture into the sterilized jam jars. Seal at once with the lids and let them cool.
- Once cool, store in the fridge or a cool larder and eat up within 3 months.
- We use the zacuska on bread or toast, stirred into yoghurt as a dip for vegetable sticks, as a base on pizzas or flatbreads, as a pasta sauce, stirred into hot green vegetables or hot brown rice, as a sauce for grilled meats and fish, as an accompaniment to cheeses and cold meats.
Hope you like it – let us know how you get on and what you’re doing with yours!