The one mezze (or side dish) that I know will always be on my families Shabbat table is matbucha. I guess the easiest way to describe matbucha would be to say that it’s a tomato pepper dip. But it is so much more than that. The secret of success for this mezze is to keep it on a gentle simmer. The longer you cook it, the better the taste (similar to a spaghetti sauce). You can also play with the heat levels of spiciness depending on what you or your guests like. I like my matbucha a little sweet and a little spicy. The best way to eat it is digging a big piece of challah bread into the Matbucha and taking a big bite out of it. It’s so yummy and compliments a lot of foods including steaks, chicken, fish, and more. It is also a great base for other dishes such as Shakshuka! It will keep in the fridge in airtight container for about a week. It also freezes well, but you should only cook and freeze once if needed–not multiple times as it will grow bacteria.
Matbucha (Tomato Dip)
1 red or green bell pepper, charred and skinned
1 medium jalapeno, pitted and chopped small (you can leave the pits if you want it really spicy)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
28 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes (or 8 large peeled and diced tomatoes)
1 tablespoon chili flakes (less if you don’t like spicy)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon sweet paprika
Combine olive oil and paprika in a cup and stir quickly. Let it sit for about 5-10 minutes so that the seasoning sinks to the bottom of the cup, and the oil becomes red absorbing the paprika flavors.
Prick the pepper in several places with the tip of a sharp knife. Char the skin of the pepper on all sides over an open flame. We are lucky in NY because we have open gas fires to cook, but if you do not, then use a bar b q or set your oven grill to the highest setting and place the pepper closest to the heat source. Turn the pepper every 5-6 minutes so the skin turns black, hardens, and gets crispy. This will make it easier for you to peel off the skin. Leave the pepper to cool down enough for you to handle. Peel and pit the pepper. You can rinse it under water to get all the pits and charred skin off of it. Chop the pepper into small cubes.
Take a medium to large sauce pot and heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in it. Once oil is hot, lower the heat to medium. Add the garlic, jalapeno, and salt. Keep stirring and watch it closely making sure the garlic gets brown but not burnt.
Once garlic has lightly browned, mix in the cubed pepper and let the vegetables sweat together for about 5 minutes. Lower heat to low.
Add the can of whole peeled tomatoes (or fresh peeled/diced tomatoes). Add sugar, chili flakes, lemon juice, and garlic powder. Mix all ingredients together. Cook for about an hour on low heat, uncovered.
Stir occasionally to make sure the sauce doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan.
After 1 hour, most of the liquid should have evaporated. This is the time to mix in the paprika oil.
Add paprika oil and cook for another 30 minutes on low fire until it reduces to a thick consistency. The color should be darker and the aroma in your kitchen more intense and wonderful.
Towards the end of cooking, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary depending on our liking of spiciness or sweetness.
Remove the matbucha from the heat and let it cool down. You can refrigerate until ready to serve. It is best served at room temperature or chilled.
Enjoy and please share any comments or questions you may have. I would love to see how yours turns out! Make sure to tag me @lizskosherkitchen if you share it on social media so I can see your masterpiece!