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In Romania, Zacusca is one of the most popular winter-preparation traditions, because you can store it in jars and they will feed you until the arrival of spring. It is made from different vegetables, but the most famous of them is the eggplant. This is everyone’s favorite when it’s cold outside. Maybe it will become yours, too!
Let’s start with the ingredients:
- 6 kg of eggplant
- 3 kg of onion
- 3 kg of red caps, cocoons or red pepper
- 3 kg of green tomatoes, fleshy
- 500 ml of sunflower oil
- 1-2 carrots
- 2-3 bay leaves
- 2-3 cloves of ostrich
- ground pepper, hot pepper
How to prepare Zacusca:
You can start by putting the eggplants on a baking pan (on an open flame, outdoors) or inside the stove, if you can’t do the first option. After baking, you should clean them and leave them to drain, in a sieve, for about 3 hours, or from an evening until morning.
If you want, you can also bake the peppers. Afterwards, you wash and cut them into slices, cleanse the seeds and pass them through a chopping machine.
The onion should be cleaned and dipped through the chopping machine as well, and then fried in a pan, greased with some oil. You have to stir it as often as possible. The carrot and the pepper should be chopped in the same way and then added to the onions. You have to mix almost continuously, so your food doesn’t stick to the pot, until the liquid decreases. If you want the vegetables to be steamed and not fried – add some water.
When the vegetables become sour, add the tomato juice (preferably made by you) and continue to boil, while still mixing. Continue until the sauce diminishes in volume.
Then you would have to add the chopped eggplants, the bay leaves, half a tablespoon of salt, pepper and ground pepper, all suited to your taste.
After the liquid in the pot has decreased (according to your preference) – turn off the gas, and let zacusca cool down until the next day. Later you should divide and pour the mixture in several jars; sterilize at bain-marie to seal them, and then place for storage.
Finally, once the cold winter arrives – take it out and… Enjoy your meal! Or… Poftă bună! (in Romanian)