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Author Notes: This take on North African matbucha swaps the traditional red bell peppers for green, and blends in plenty of fresh green herbs and za’atar, giving the dish a verdant hue. Serve it on top of roasted chicken, fish, meat, or veggies. Or add it to a mezze spread, served with crackers or grilled pita for dipping.
Reprinted with permission from Little Book of Jewish Appetizers, by Leah Koenig (Chronicle, August, 2017).
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 medium onion, finely chopped
- 2 cups peeled, 1/2-inch eggplant cubes
- 1 medium green pepper, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons dried za'atar, plus more for serving
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
- 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- 1 cup fresh, mint leaves, packed
- Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion, eggplant, green peppers, jalapeño, sugar, and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables soften, about 15 minutes. Add the garlic, za'atar, onion powder, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in the tomatoes with their juice, and bring mixture to a simmer; reduce heat to low and cook, partially covered and stirring often, until mixture thickens and the vegetables grow very tender, about 10 minutes. Partway through cooking, mash the vegetables a bit with a potato masher or the back of a spoon.
- Meanwhile, place the basil, mint, another generous pinch of salt, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a food processor and pulse, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary, until a pesto-like paste forms. Stir green mixture into eggplant mixture and let cook until the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and season with additional salt and black pepper to taste. Let cool to room temperature, then transfer to a serving bowl and sprinkle with more za'atar.