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Hungarian Cuisine: Lecso

Updated on January 31, 2011

Lecso is a traditional Hungarian thick vegetable dish that is also very well-known in Check and Slovak cuisine as well as in Israel. We usually eat a lot of this in summer when there are lots of fresh vegetables available.

Lecso is versatile

Lecso is a cooked mixture of tomatoes, paprika, onions and yellow banana peppers. It can be anything you want it to be. With some sliced Hungarian sausage added, it can be served as an appetizer or stew. Served over rice or dumplings it can be a main course. For breakfast, spoon it over scabbled eggs or make use of it as a sauce for sausage or corn meal mush. According to Wikipedia, it is also possible to serve the warm dish with sour cream or in a pancake, as a filling, but I've never seen that happen. Lecso is an ancient dish and it's quite compatible with a variety of dishes.

A pot of ordinary Hungarian lecs simmering on the stove.
A pot of ordinary Hungarian lecs simmering on the stove.

serves 4, takes 35 minutes

2 tbs lard or sunflower oil,
2 medium onions,
500g yellow sweet paprika seeded and sliced,
2 large and ripe tomatoes peeled and sliced,
pinch of tarragon,
3 garlic cloves mashed,
1/2 tsp salt,
pepper,
1 tsp Hungarian paprika,
150g smoked kolbász (dried sausage).

Don't use green bell pepper.

Heat lard and add sliced onion, salt, pepper. Cook over low heat for about 5 minutes. Add yellow sweet paprika sliced with a pinch of tarragon. Sprinkle half of the Hungarian paprika powder, but do not stir. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Add dried sausage, salt, tomatoes, garlic, rest of paprika powder. Cook for 10 minutes. Taste and add salt if needed. Serve hot and spiced.

Have you ever tried a lecsó dish?

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    • profile image

      DoorMattnomore 6 years ago

      That looks really good Haunty. I wish we had paprika like you do. Here all we have is the bland powdered red kind. Nobody uses it for much of anything except a garnish on develed eggs.

    • Haunty profile image
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      Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary

      Lol Justine, here almost everything is cooked with the use of paprika powder. Hungarians can't live without it. That's why so many complain that they can't "eat well" living abroad. If you came here and saw the things we eat, you'd probably say they're pretty strange. You'd probably grow tired of it. I do sometimes. I hate Hungarian stew. :| :D

      Yes, I heard that this kind of paprika doesn't exist in the States, which is interesting considering it originates from America.

    • cindyvine profile image

      Cindy Vine 6 years ago from Cape Town

      The kielbasa I make has heaps of paprika in it. That's Hungarian to, right?

    • Haunty profile image
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      Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary

      We have the word "kolbász" for sausage, but it sounds a bit foreign in our language. We have hundreds of different types of kolbász in Hungary, but linguists say that the word is of Slavic origin. I just checked and even Wikipedia doesn't seem to know where it's origins are. (Hungarians are not Slavic people.)

    • profile image

      DoorMattnomore 6 years ago

      The states, at least the part where I am, are so used to prepackaged, premade, fast food, its hard to find anything new. I suppose wherever you live, you get tired of the same thing every day, whatever it may be.

    • Haunty profile image
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      Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary

      Yes, that's what I suspected. It's in our nature to get tired of the same thing when it comes to food.

    • profile image

      DoorMattnomore 6 years ago

      unless its pizza. I dont think I can get tired of pizza.

    • Zsuzsy Bee profile image

      Zsuzsy Bee 6 years ago from Ontario/Canada

      Great hub Haunty. Lecso is the first meal I make every year with the first peppers and tomatoes out of the garden. As watched water will not boil, the peppers and tomatoes will not ripen. I didn't have to wait as impatiently this year with the heat wave both the peppers and tomatoes have been doing great and ripened earlier than usual. All my children and their families came home second weekend of July and we had our traditional Lecso in memory of my Dad whose absolute favorite meal it was. To serve with it I also made a batch of 'tarhonya' from scratch (a once a year ordeal) as I'm not always able to get the ready made grated noodles here, unless I get up to Toronto. It was a great idea to share this recipe with everyone here on hubpages.

      hope you're well

      regards Zsuzsy

    • Haunty profile image
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      Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary

      Justine, I guess you've found the exception that proves the rule. lol

      Zsuzsy, thanks for the great comment. You definitely know how to live! But tarhonya?! Yikes! I guess that's proof that there is something wicked about us Hungarians :) I'm well enough. Hope you're well too ! :)

    • akirchner profile image

      Audrey Kirchner 6 years ago from Central Oregon

      That looks great! I can almost smell it from here.

    • Haunty profile image
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      Haunty 6 years ago from Hungary

      Oh, I've just realized that you have a funny story about a snake. It's a bit long for 2 am, but I'll return to it tomorrow.

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 6 years ago from Boise, Idaho

      I don't know that I've ever tried any Hungarian cuisine. This looks good and now on my "to try" list. Thanks!

    • rjsadowski profile image

      rjsadowski 5 years ago

      I confess that I never tried lesco because I wasn't quite sure how to make it. I will put it high on my list of ptiorities.I can't find Hungarian peppers here. Are banana peppers really close enough in taste?

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