When my twin nephews Luca and Nico were little boys, they loved Matbucha. At Friday night dinners, they would chime together “Maman, can we have Moroccan ketchup?”
It was so cute and so heartwarming at the same time.
Throughout the years, I would make Matbucha the traditional way. The way that my mother and our good friend Sharona Shabtay make it. It was unquestionably delicious, but so much work. The traditional Matbucha recipe calls for parboiling and peeling pounds of fresh tomatoes. So much work discouraged me from making Matbucha, so I would leave it for my mother to make.
Then last year, I saw a video of Danielle Renov, a popular Instagram influencer @peaslovencarrots.com and best-selling author of the cookbook Peas Love & Carrots, making Salade Cuite. Instead of using fresh tomatoes, Renov uses canned tomatoes. This revelation rocked my world. I started experimenting and combined parts of her method with my mother’s recipe. Now, I make Matbucha every other week, freezing a batch for the following week and the leftovers are perfect for Sunday morning Shakshuka. I start cooking in the morning and let it simmer all day. The tomatoes are dark red and the peppers are smoky. The flavor is intensely rich, sweet and flavorful with just enough fire.
A Star of the Maghreb kitchen, Matbucha, a dish of cooked tomatoes, roasted peppers, garlic and chili peppers, literally means cooked in Arabic. Also known as Salade Cuite, (“cooked salad” in French), Matbucha is part of the meze table, the Middle Eastern appetizer course. Brought to Israel by North African immigrants from Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Libya, Matbucha is almost as popular as chummus, served at many restaurants and on supermarket shelves.
Make a batch of healthy, antioxidant-rich Matbucha for Pesach. It’s delicious on its own or on matzo and it also makes a wonderful base for Shakshuka, tagines and fish dishes.
We are certain that you’ll love this “Moroccan Ketchup”!
Rachel’s Matbucha Recipe
¼ cup olive oil
10 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
4 28 oz cans of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
4 large red bell peppers
1 large green bell pepper
2 spicy green peppers or 1 small can of fire roasted green diced chiles or 2 teaspoons red chili flakes.
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon paprika
Roast the red, green and chili peppers, in the oven or on the barbecue.
Seed the peppers and peel off the charred skin. (A simple method is to immediately place the roasted peppers into a paper bag and let them steam for 20 minutes, causing the skins to fall away easily. Leave more seeds if you prefer a spicier matbucha or add more chili peppers to your pot.) Chop the peppers into long strips and set aside.
Heat oil in a heavy pot over low heat, then add chopped garlic.
Drain the canned tomatoes, setting the liquid aside.
Cut the tomatoes into large chunks and add to the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
When the mixture starts to bubble, cover the pot and reduce heat to low.
Keep stirring the tomatoes every 30 minutes, adding some of the reserved tomato juice if the tomatoes become too dry.
After cooking the tomatoes for 4-5 hours, the mixture will be quite thick.
Add the roasted peppers, salt and paprika and simmer for another 30 minutes.