This is, bar none, my favorite food to eat! Just typing all this is making my mouth water. I love to eat it as a spread on bread, though it's delicious on top of mashed potatoes!
This recipe is an adaptation of a similar one found on a BB: http://bb.bbboy.net and can also be found in just about any Romanian cook book on the market. It's very popular. If anyone makes the effort, you'll know why
Romanian Eggplant Zacusca (zah-KOO-ska)
Makes about 3 pints
4 medium eggplants
2 green bell peppers
4 red or yellow bell peppers
2 large sweet peppers
2-1/2 pounds canned diced tomatoes
1/3 cup oil (preferably sunflower or olive)
2 medium onions, chopped
1 fresh hot pepper, chopped
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Preheat the oven on "broil".
Eggplants: Pierce a few holes in the skin with a fork. Broil one side until the skin is blackened, then turn and broil the other side. When done, cut the stems off and rest the eggplants on a tilted surface to drain the juice for about 15 minutes. Next, peel off the skin, and process in a food processor until smooth. Set aside.
Peppers: Core and de-stem the peppers, then broil until the skins are mostly blackened, usually 5 minutes. Once cool, remove the skin from the peppers, chop and set aside.
Next: Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions, and cook until they just begin to caramelize (10 minutes). Stir in the tomatoes, peppers, hot peppers, and eggplant. Add the salt, black pepper, and sugar. Lower heat and simmer, uncovered, for about one hour, stirring frequently to keep from burning.
To store: if you know how to can, do so. Zacusca improves with age. If canned and stored in a cool place for 3 or 4 months, the taste will be fantastic!
Otherwise, serve chilled on bread.
For a more tomato-ey taste, add up to 3 Tablespoons tomato paste to the mixture.