This time of year farmer’s markets are brimming with all kinds of vegetables that are fresh and in season. So I figured it’s time for one of my favorite family recipes: Grilled Bell Pepper and Eggplant Tapenade (or, in Romanian: Zacusca cu Ardei si Vinete).
These vegetables contain compounds that promote good health and you might want to consider having them as a part of your regular diet. Eggplants are an excellent source of dietary fiber, bone-building manganese, enzyme-catalyzing molybdenum and heart-healthy potassium. They are a good source of bone-building vitamin K and magnesium as well as heart-healthy copper, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, and niacin. Eggplant also contains phytonutrients such as chlorogenic acid which is one of the most potent free radical scavengers found in plants. Health benefits attributed to this phytonutrient include anticancer, antimicrobial, anti-LDL (bad cholesterol) and antiviral activities.
In order to fully benefit from all the nutrients from bell peppers they should be consumed only when fully ripened. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin A (beta-carotene) and potassium. Bell peppers are a great source of over 30 different members of the carotenoid nutrient family. Multiple studies found that this carotenoid complexity can lower the risk of prostate, lung, gastric and esophageal cancers and are great for strengthening the immune system.
Besides the tremendous health properties, this tapenade recipe is full of grilled veggies that burst of flavor adding a unique twist to this classic Mediterranean hors d’oeuvre. It can be served as a spread over fresh artisan bread or crackers, as a topping for baked potatoes or as an innovative pasta sauce.
You can serve this freshly made or can it in jars for later on!
- 5 organic eggplants, grill until soft and almost white inside
- 10 organic bell peppers in a variety of colors, grilled, peeled and with seeds removed
- 2 organic bay leaves
- 1 lb organic onions, finely chopped and sauteed
- organic olive oil
- 2 oz. organic tomato paste
- 1/2 head of organic garlic, minced
- 1 cups organic olives, diced
- organic pepper to taste (optional)
- Celtic salt to taste
- Wash eggplants and bell peppers. Poke eggplants with a fork a few times all around so they don’t burst on the grill.
- Grill the eggplants on the BBQ at aprox. 450°F for about 30 to 45 min. rotating once midway.
- Remove from the grill when the skin gets hard and the inside looks almost white. Set aside in a dish to cool and allow the juices to drain.
- When cool enough and ready to handle peel off all the skin and set the pulp aside to drain.
- Set bell peppers on the grill and roast at aprox. 250°F turning on all side every 10 to 15 minutes until they get well grilled but they are still firm. This lower temperature setting will preserve the most of the delicate phytonutrients in them.
- Remove bell peppers from the grill and place in a covered stainless or ceramic dish, sprinkle generously with salt, cover and let them cool for an hour or so.
- When ready to handle, peel off all the skin and remove as many seeds as possible.
- Place eggplant pulp in the food processor and process with short pulses until well mixed.
- Place bell peppers in the food processor and process with short pulses so they don’t turn into a paste.
- Sauté finely chopped onions in olive oil until golden brown; add minced garlic, bay leaves, tomato paste, chopped olives and black pepper. Add eggplants and bell peppers.
- Mix until well combined and simmer for 30 minutes on medium-low.
- Add salt.
If canning in jars:
Add the jars to the dishwasher to wash and dry on high heat. Plan accordingly so they are completely dry by the time the tapenade in done simmering.
Place the hot tapenade in the hot jars and seal. Leave in the pantry until ready to eat (should last at least 3 months).
Makes aprox. 2.5 qt. You can easily double the quantities if want to make more… we have been doing it x4 and can it for later consumption.