The idea to make Lecsó came to me by means of my fellow wanderlust friend, Mar. Mar is a seasoned traveler, who came about this dish while couch surfing on her trip through Hungary. When telling her about my blogging endeavors, she recommended this dish to me.
Lecsó (LEH-choh) is a sweet and spicy pepper-based stew. While it is Hungarian in origin, it is also quite popular in many other areas of Central and Eastern Europe. There are many regional and personal variations, but the central ingredients are always fresh peppers and flavorful tomatoes, with plenty of Paprika. The onions in this dish are typically sauteed in bacon fat, but regular sunflower or olive oil will work just fine (especially if you are vegan.. Like Mar.)
As far as what kind of peppers to use, there is a bit of a difference in opinion here. Some purists will say only the Hungarian Wax Pepper should be used. Others say that a mixture of bell and wax pepper is better, for cutting down on the spiciness. Personally, I went with both for varieties sake
(I ran out of wax pepper).
A very versatile dish, Lecsó can be served as a side, appetizer or the main meal itself. It can have meat in it (like sausages or eggs), or not. Often times, it is even used as a base for other recipes. It is so popular in fact, that the dish even has its own festivals! The best Lecsó is said to be made over an open fire in a “bogrács” (a cauldron)
Without further adieu, lets make Lecsó!
2 parts Banana Pepper/Bell Pepper
1-2 parts Diced Tomatoes (canned or fresh)
1 part Onion
2-4 tbsp Sunflower oil
1 heaped tbsp Hungarian paprika (or more)
Remove the stalks and the seeds from the peppers, and cut into finger-width strips. If using fresh tomatoes, remove the stalks and dice them.
Finely chop the onion and fry in the hot oil, stirring continuously, until slightly browned on the edges. Stir in the Hungarian Paprika and cook for a minute or two.
(Paprika always tastes best when heated!)
Add in the peppers and salt, and cook until crisp. Or, cover and simmer gently for about 10 minutes. Then add the tomatoes and cook until soft. (The tomatoes come last, because if added at the beginning, they would soak the onions and the peppers.)
Serve hot or warm.
** Lesco freezes and preserves quite well, via canning or portioned into freezer bags. Lesco is often made in big batches and stored for winter meals.