Pot of tomato sauce with herbs on the side
The Moroccan Pantry Staple That Can Substitute For Fresh Tomatoes
Tomatoes are a staple in countless cuisines, but fresh tomatoes can be barely worth using outside of tomato season. Instead, try a jar of Moroccan matbucha for more flavor.
Matbucha, meaning “cooked salad,” in Arabic, is a tomato-based condiment that has been enjoyed throughout the Middle East and North Africa since the 1500s.
Matbucha is primarily made of blanched and peeled tomatoes with charred, peeled red bell peppers, garlic, and olive oil. The ingredients are cooked down to a jam-like texture.
The sauce has a semi-liquid, spread-like texture and a tangy, savory, and sweet flavor with a slight pungency from the garlic and a bit of spice, depending on the peppers you use.
Once prepared, the sauce can be eaten right away or jarred and stored in your pantry. You can also change up the recipe with spicier or sweeter peppers, paprika, or onions.
Matbucha is perfect for tomato-based recipes like soups, sauces and marinades. It offers more flavor than watery, out-of-season tomatoes and a fresher taste than tomato paste.
You likely won’t find matbucha at the grocery store, unless you have a Middle Eastern or North African specialty store nearby. It's easiest to just make it yourself.