Peppers. Eggplant. Tomatoes!
For those of you who have been asking me for more plant-based breakfast ideas, I wanted to shared this veggie garden spread for some time now. This is what breakfast and lunch looked like for me as a child. Whole wheat crusty bread slathered with a thick layer of mom’s Zacusca.
Enjoy with a sprinkling of your favorite fresh herbs, thinly sliced scallions, crisp radishes and cucumbers, go wild!
I remember jars of this delicious stuff lined up on our old wooden pantry shelves at all times, right above the homemade strawberry and apricot jam. Midnight cravings always covered!
The original recipe also known as Zacusca calls for a heavy pouring of oil, however I adapted mine to be completely WFPB, healthy as can be, good for you without sacrificing flavor. You could choose to sautee your onion in a light drizzle of olive oil if you insist but it really it isn’t necessary. This is a legit classic brimming with clean flavor you guys!
The gist of it is roasting eggplants and bell peppers to infuse them with a deep roasted smoky flavor. Chop everything up then cook them down with San Marzano tomatoes until a savory thick spread is achieved (you can use fresh blanched tomatoes or canned).
It doubles down as a pasta sauce and gluten-free dip on the appetizer platter served with pita bread or bruschetta. As you can see the possibilities are endless with a jar of this magic in your pantry.
Roasted Vegetable Spread (Zacusca)
- 3 large red bell peppers (or your favorite colors)
- 3 medium eggplants
- 28 oz canned whole San Marzano tomatoes (you can use fresh blanched tomatoes instead)
- 1 yellow onion -finely chopped
- 6 cloves garlic -minced
- 3 leaves bay
- 1 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp red chili flakes -or to taste
- 1 pinch sea salt +more to taste
- 1/4 cup Italian parsley -roughly chopped
- Rinse the eggplants and pierce them with a knife in a few spots. Roast them together with the bell peppers under the broiler flames until charred on all sides. Flip them around a few times, then transfer to a bowl. Cover with a lid until cool enough to handle.3 medium eggplants, 3 large red bell peppers
- Peel the charred skins from the peppers, discard the seeds then core and chop up the flesh. (You can puree them in a food processor too)
- Scoop the flesh from inside the roasted eggplants and mix together with the roasted peppers. Set aside until needed.
- Meanwhile in a heavy bottom pot saute the onion with a pinch of sea salt, pepper flakes and a splash of water until translucent. Stir in the garlic and the tomatoes breaking them up with a flat wooden spoon.1 yellow onion, 6 cloves garlic, 1 tsp red chili flakes, 1 pinch sea salt, 28 oz canned whole San Marzano tomatoes
- Stir in the roasted pepper, eggplant, smoked paprika and bay leaves and bring to a simmer. Partially cover with a lid and cook down until most of the juices from the tomatoes have cooked down into a thick spread, about 35 minutes or so.3 large red bell peppers, 3 medium eggplants, 1 tbsp smoked paprika, 3 leaves bay
- Add the chopped parsley and season to taste with more sea salt and extra pepper flakes. (At this point you can use a potato masher for a smoother consistency If you prefer, I like the rustic texture of the sauce.)1/4 cup Italian parsley
- Refrigerate until chilled to serve as a spread or toss with whole wheat noodles or in a cold pasta salad. (Traditionally a very large batch of this recipe is prepared and canned for the winter).
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This was my first time making this vegetable spread and I must say it was totally worth the prep work. The flavor is fantastic and now I have a new favorite breakfast spread and a new favorite pasta sauce.
Can this be preserved?
Your receipt is wonderful. I used to make Zacusca back to live in Hungary, and we used to put in plus cooked, smashed beens. Cheers rozsa
Thanks so much Rozsa! Yes you can add some smashed white beans too if you wanna thicken it even more and load up on protein. My grandma made 2 versions of Zacusca toos, one had those flat yellow string beans that she grew in the garden, so delicious I’m trying to find some seeds so I can grow those.