summer harvest - lutenitsa

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

It's still summer.  How do I know?   The heat.  Nah, it's actually really pleasant in Virginia right now - like window open pleasant!   No, I know it is summer thanks to the screams coming from the other room of children fighting over a Lego door.  Well, the fight sounds and the massive surplus of tomatoes coming from my garden are both signs of summer.

I've had tomatoes coming out my ears this summer.  They have been frozen, made into sauces, salsa, and I can't even count how many tomato sandwiches we have had so far this year.  It has been a  yummy dilemma.

This weekend I had 10 plus pounds of tomatoes sitting on counter I had to do something with them.

Light bulb!!!!  Lutenitsa!!!!!!!!   Oh my stars why I hadn't I thought of this before.

Don't know what lutenitsa is?  No worries!  Lutenitsa is a roasted red pepper - tomato - eggplant based spread from Bulgaria.  No, I've never been to Bulgaria.  I just remember eating this spread by the jar full with Bulgarian kids when I went to boarding school eons ago!!!!   And let me tell you, I loved when they came back with their Grandmother's lutenitsa after Christmas break!  That made study breaks oh so yummmy!
Anyways, so after all these years I decided to give it a go.  And let me tell you it was a success.  I'm not sure if I should share this with D or not.

So make this for yourself.  DO IT!

Lutenitsa Recipe
5-6 lbs tomatoes - de-stemmed and quartered
2 jalapenos (optional & not traditional -  I just like things to have a kick!)
2.5 lbs red peppers - roasted, pealed, de-seeded
2 lbs egg plant   - lightly roasted, sliced
1 cup oil
1 large onion - chopped
2 carrots - sliced
1 head of garlic - peeled
1/2 cup sugar (or to taste)
3 tablespoons salt (or to taste)
1/3 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon black pepper

In a pan add tomatoes & jalapenos (remember these are optional!) - and let them cook over medium heat until they begin to break down.  Puree them up - I find an emulsion blender works best, if not just pull out your margarita making device.

In another pan, add oil and saute eggplants, onions, carrots, and garlic.  Cook until the onions are softened.  Add this mixture (including the oil in the pan) to the pureed tomatoes.

Add the roasted red peppers to tomato mixture.  Along with sugar, salt, vinegar, and black pepper.

Use your emulsion blender one more time and puree everything up.  Stir it and let it cook on low (stirring every 15 minutes) for 3-4 hours.  You want it to be good and thick, not soupy.  An easy way to test this is to put a dollop on a plate and see if a water ring forms.

You can eat this by the vatful if you want - or can it!  To can it - I add a teaspoon of lemon juice to the bottom of each jar and processed for 15 minutes - it makes about 12 - 8 oz jars.

Enjoy it straight from the pan, with bread, over roasted veggies or with Bulgarian sheep cheese or feta.  
This is Bulgarian sheep cheese - not brined white sheep parts.
I'm not going to lie, I was a little nervous about what I was getting into when I opened this container.
Translation fail.

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