Traditional peasant zacusca – The secret of the Romanian recipe, transmitted from generation to generation


Zacusca is a delicious traditional dish of Romanian cuisine, prepared from baked vegetables and spices. In addition to its unmistakable taste, zacusca brings numerous health benefits due to its natural ingredients and specific preparation process.

Zacusca is an extremely popular vegetable paste in Romania, but also in the Republic of Moldova. The name zacusca comes from the Slavic language and means appetizer or breakfast or snack.

Similar vegetable pasta can be found in the Balkans: ajvar, pindjur, ljutenica, kyopolou, biber salçası, etc. Where does zacusca come from? We do not know precisely, its origin seems to be in Armenia or Georgia.

The history of this traditional Romanian dish begins somewhere in the thirteenth century, when Romania was under Ottoman occupation. Zacusca was first cooked in Moldova. Ottoman influences in Romanian gastronomy made their presence felt by adopting new dishes (pilaf, thistle, moussaka, zacusca).

The main ingredients for zacusca are baked eggplants, onions, tomatoes and bell peppers (capia or donut). In some areas, mushrooms, carrots or celery are also added. Peasant zacusca is seasoned with bay leaves, salt, pepper, paprika, oil, etc. The secret of a peasant zacusta is baking vegetables on the hob, and not in the oven.

Peasant zacusca is consumed on fresh bread.


Traditional Peasant Zacusca – Ingredients


1.5 kg red bell peppers 1 kg eggplants 1 kg ripe tomatoes 500 g onion 200 ml sunflower oil 2 tablespoons tomato paste 2 tablespoons salt 1 tablespoon sugar 2 bay leaves 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 1/2 tsp paprika 1/2 tsp paprika (optional) 3-4 garlic cloves


Traditional peasant zacusca – Method of preparation


1. Wash peppers, eggplants, tomatoes and onions. Peel and cut the onion into small pieces.

2. Bake the peppers on an open flame until the peel turns black. Put them in a bowl and cover them with cling film for a few minutes, then peel them, remove the seeds and cut them into small pieces.

3. Put the eggplants directly on the flame to bake them. When ripe, cut them into small pieces and let them drain in a strainer to remove excess liquid.

4. In a large pot, heat the sunflower oil and sauté the onion until transparent.

5. Add the tomato paste and mix well with the onion.

6. Add the roasted peppers and eggplants to the pan, stir and let them sauté together with the onion and tomato paste for a few minutes.

7. Add the ripe and finely chopped tomatoes to the pan. Season with salt, pepper, sugar, paprika and, if you like, paprika for a more intense taste.

8. Add the bay leaves and let it simmer over low heat until it decreases and thickens. Stir occasionally so that it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

9. In the last step, add the crushed garlic cloves and mix well.

10. When the zacusca has thickened enough and has a homogeneous consistency, turn off the heat and let it cool.

11. Put zacusca in clean, dry jars, and then sterilize them for 20-30 minutes to make sure they keep well.