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Hungarian Lecsó – Pepper and Tomato Stew
Hungarian Lecsó is a stewed mix of peppers, tomatoes and onions. It is sometimes called “Hungarian ratatouille”.
Lecsó comes in many variations and it can be served on its own, as a side or as a main dish, at any time of the day. It is a healthy breakfast recipe, it might be topped with a fried egg or two or scrambled along with them.
For lunch or dinner, it is usually eaten on its own with bread, or supplemented with a sausage, rice, meat, noodles, etc. In addition, lecsó can be stored in jars and preserved for consumption later in the year, when fresh ingredients are not in season.
It is a nice vegetarian and vegan meal if you serve it without eggs and sausage, but meat lovers prefer cooking it with smoked meat. Quick, easy, healthy recipe to make, done in 30 minutes.
Can I use bell peppers?
I prefer not to. Hungarians always use yellow wax peppers (called TV paprika).
What is the best paprika to use?
Paprika is essentially air-dried peppers ground into a fine powder. In Hungary there are eight types of paprika varying in colour and pungency. I prefer using sweet paprika that has a rich red color. I never use smoked or spicy paprika, you can make your dish spicy after you serve, you add as much heat to the dish as you want.
I mainly use paprika from Szeged, but Kalocsa Paprika is also wonderful. Cooking tip: do not burn your paprika, or it becomes bitter.
How to store paprika?
Paprika can go flat if it’s old. Make sure you taste test your paprika before cooking with it in this recipe. Paprika, as it gets older, will lose its aroma and become less pungent. If your paprika doesn’t have a strong flavor or has no smell, it’s no longer good. Store your paprika in an airtight container in a cool, dark spot, either in a spice drawer or the refrigerator.
How do you serve Hungarian Lecsó?
You can have it plain with some fresh white bread. You can pour beaten eggs over and fry together with the pepper stew, this is my favorite version.
You can have it with rice: when you add the peppers to the tomatoes, add some more water, pour uncooked rice in and cook until the rice absorbs the moisture and get tender.
You can make your Lecsó with sliced smoked paprika sausage. Add them to the lecsó just before it is ready, and cook for a few minutes.