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Eastern European Roasted Pepper Appetizer without salt, sugar, or oil  (Zakuszka)

Servings: 12. Prep time: 20 min Cooking time: 45 min

Ingredients:

- 2 lbs ripe roma tomatoes cut in halves or 2 cans fire roasted tomatoes

- 1 lbs red bell peppers, halved and de-cored

- 2 large eggplants, cut in halves

- 2 large red onions, finely diced

- 4-5 cloves garlic finely minced

- 7 oz tomato paste

- 2-3 bay leaves

- 1 tsp. onion powder

- 1 tsp. garlic powder

- 1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

- 1 tsp. sweet paprika

- 1/4 tsp red chili flakes (optional)

Directions:

- place bell pepper, tomato, and eggplant halves on a foil lined backing sheet and roast at 450F for 15-20 minutes or until skins start to darken. Remove from oven and let cool. When cooled, remove skins and place in food processor and pulse a few times until mixture is minced uniformly.

- sauté onions and garlic until translucent and fragrant. Use vegetable broth or water to sauté. Add tomato/pepper/eggplant mixture, bay leaves, and all the spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to minimum and simmer without a lid for additional 30-45 min until mixture is thicker. Optionally, you can add saute-browned mushrooms or prepared red kidney beans.

- let cool and store in refrigerator. Serve with whole wheat bread or pita bread.

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