(Hungarian simmered peppers and tomatoes)
Originally a Serbian dish, lecsó (LET-choh) has been fully assimilated into the Magyar kitchen. This simple pepper and tomato ragout is served both as a side dish and as an appetizer in Hungary. It is an essential component of many Hungarian dishes. A preserved version is also used in recipes as a substitute for fresh tomatoes and peppers when they are not in season.
4 to 6 servings
- Lard or oil -- 3 tablespoons
- Onion, sliced thinly -- 1
- Garlic, minced -- 2 to 3 cloves
- Paprika -- 2 to 3 tablespoons
- Peppers (see variations), seeds and ribs removed, chopped -- 2-3 pounds
- Tomatoes, chopped -- 2 cups
- Salt and pepper -- to taste
- Heat the lard or oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the onions and sauté until translucent and starting to brown. Add the garlic and sauté for another 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the paprika until well blended.
- Reduce heat to medium-low and return the pot to the flame. Stir in the peppers, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the peppers are cooked through and soft. Add a little water if necessary to keep a sauce-like consistency. Adjust seasoning and serve.
- Try using a variety of peppers in this dish for a more interesting flavor. A mix of red and green bell peppers will suffice in a pinch. But if you can find Italian frying peppers, Hungarian wax peppers or banana peppers, they're ideal. One or two hot cherry peppers will add a little spice.
- Add 1 to 2 sliced smoked sausages along with the peppers and tomatoes if you like.
- Serve with fried eggs for a wholesome breakfast. Or over rice or polenta for a simple lunch or supper.