It looked really ordinary, not something to entice gastronomic excitement. I was offered a slice of bread from the basket; upon touch it felt wonderfully soft. Spreading the paste over my bread, I was encouraged to add more. It’s sometimes embarrassing; I worried I would have to use my diplomatic skills and declare it was all rather tasty but for now I am not hungry. This has only happened a few times before, most notably while traveling in Argentina after downing several pieces of barbequed lung! I had to come clean and say, “No more thanks”.
Now the Zacuska touched my palette… How on earth can a simple vegetable paste taste so heavenly! In Romania it is made in large batches and bottled in the autumn. Smiling now at Lily I asked Leonard, owner of the Pension Piscul Soarelui, to translate and tell his wife that her homemade Zacuska was to die for! I could tell she was delighted. Here was a woman who was passionate about her food and wanted her guests to enjoy it. I immediately liked her. Lily advised that some people grill the vegetables, while others simply roast them in the oven, then puree. Yes you can make a large batch to bottle or you can make a small batch and consume within a couple of days. It is eaten as a lunch snack on bread or used as a starter. I have provided the recipe as instructed by Lily and she hopes that you will all enjoy it. Thank you Lily for sharing…
HOW TO MAKE
LILY’s ROMANIAN ZACUSKA
This recipe is for a large batch yield approximately 15-20 jar, just scale back on your qualities if you want to make a smaller batch. Definitely reduce the oil content if you are not going to bottle.
- 5kg Aubergines
- 2kg Red Bell Peppers
- A few large Onions
- 600g tomato paste
- 2 cups of Olive oil
- Salt and pepper to season
- Grill or bake the aubergines and peppers and remove the skins after baking.
- Bake the onions; Lily advised these can also be fried.
- Add tomato paste, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste.
- Puree and put in the fridge or bottle (best to Goggle if you need to know how to bottle correctly).
- Serve with fresh bread.