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The Hungarian adventures continue! Today we are trying out the rustic and homey Lecso.
Lecso, a stew made with onions, peppers, and tomatoes, is a common dish in Hungary, and rightly so! It is easy to make, hardy, full of flavor, and quite healthy.
I chatted with my Hungarian friend, Katalin Ujhelyi, to see if she would share her delicious version with us. She agreed! Yay! Katalin’s version is completely vegan (many recipes call for lard), and loaded with healthy veggies. She even adds a unique extra veggie twist for over the top yumminess.
Here is what you need for 4 people. Keep in mind this is a rustic dish – follow your instincts, don’t worry about exact amounts, and feel free to let your chopping be a bit uneven – it just adds to the charm! –
- 2 large onions, medium diced (According to Katalin, when cooking Hungarian food, you really can’t overdo it with the onions!)
- 5 or 6 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
- A heavy glug of olive oil
- 3 bell peppers (Katalin recommends authentic paprika peppers if you are lucky enough to find them fresh. Otherwise use a mix of red and green bell peppers), chopped into roughly bite size pieces
- 2 or 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- A tablespoon or more of ground paprika, to taste (I LOVE paprika, so I went for about double this amount)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Fresh parsley for garnish
Optional extra veggie flavor boost –
- 1/2 carrot
- 1/2 parsnip
- 4 or 5 cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 bunch fresh parsley
(Note from Julie about the veggie flavor boost – Katalin didn’t mention how much of each veggie to use, so I made a guess, and ultimately went for about equal amounts of each. I thought it turned out quite deliciously!)
How to make the optional extra veggie flavor boost –
Chop the optional veggies as finely as you can, mix together in a small bowl, and set aside.
Making the Lecso –
- Heat a heavy blog of olive oil in a medium soup pot or a large deep skillet over medium heat.
- Sauté the onions in the oil until they just start to get a few brown bits.
- Add the garlic, and sauté for about 30 seconds, or until the garlic becomes very fragrant.
- Pull the pot off the heat, and stir in the ground paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. If you don’t pull the pot off the heat, the paprika will likely burn. Once the spices are mixed with the juices in the pot, return it to the heat.
- Mix in the optional veggie flavor boost, and sauté for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn.
- Add the tomatoes, bell peppers, and about 1/2 cup of water. Give it a good stir, then cover.
- Cook until the veggies are as tender as you like them – 10 to 30 minutes. (Katalin likes hers on the crunchy side, but I went for a bit softer and more saucy.)
- Give your Lecso a taste, and adjust for salt, pepper, and ground paprika. If the consistency is a little thin for you, cook for a few more minutes with the lid off to allow for evaporation. If it’s a little thick, add in a bit more water, and stir well.
What to do with your delicious Lecso –
Lecso can be eaten on its own like a hardy vegetable stew, served over rice, potatoes, or eggs, or used as a sauce for any kind of meat or pasta. Or really, whatever you feel like doing with it will be fantastic! 😉