Blog Post

TOMATO AND PEPPERS STEW – HUNGARIAN LECHO

It’s summer here! Tomatoes, peppers, and zucchinis are back in season! This tomato and peppers stew (Hungarian Lecho or Lescho) dish uses the freshest summer ingredients like ripe tomatoes, green and banana peppers, and luscious zucchinis. When it simmers, the house smells incredible.

Food

TOMATO AND PEPPERS STEW – HUNGARIAN LECHO

THE STEPS TO MAKE THIS HUNGARIAN LECHO OR LESCHO (TOMATO AND PEPPERS STEW) ARE SUPER EASY:
In a dutch oven or other heavy pot heat up one tablespoon of oil;
Add chopped one large Spanish Onion and cook for 3 minutes;
Add 2 chopped garlic and 1 tablespoon of fresh thyme and cook for another minute;
Add 1 tablespoon of tomato paste and 1 cup of cubed cooked sausage (if using one) and cook for 5 minutes;
Add cubed tomatoes (6 Roma tomatoes), peppers (2 banana and 1 green), and summer medium zucchini;
Add 1 cup of tomato sauce, 1 teaspoon of sweet and paprika (you can add 1/4 teaspoon of hot Hungarian paprika for a spicier version);
Season with salt and pepper, cover, and let it simmer for 20 minutes;
Serve with fresh bread or rice.
That’s it. Your perfect summer dinner is done. The printable version of the recipe is at the bottom of this post.


HOW DID I LEARN HOW TO MAKE CLASSIC HUNGARIAN LECHO
When I was in law school, back in my beloved home city of Wroclaw, Poland; one of my German friends came to study at my University. Her mother was Polish but she was born in Germany. Her grandmother had lived in Wroclaw and she would visit her often when she was a little girl. As girls, we use to play together a lot.

She had been studying the law in Germany and when she learned that there was an opportunity to do a year abroad, she wisely chose Wroclaw. This was a ton of fun! Not only I was happy to hang with her often, but also thanks to her I met some pretty cool people from throughout Europe. As an exchange student, she was a member of the international student organization and therefore opened those doors to me.

One of the best ideas that she had during her year was to organize ‘International Tuesday’s Dinners.’ Every Tuesday about 10 people from different countries would meet for dinner at her place. One of them would cook a meal from his or her native country and the rest would bring and cleaned up the dishes.

We had people from France, Belgium, Germany, Holland, Hungary, and few other countries, which I cannot remember right now. There were countless nights of amazing conversations, great food, and (a winning combination).

Two dishes that really rooted in my mind were: (i) Chicken with white and cream sauce prepared by one of the French girls (which until this day I continue to make often for my family as a quick weeknight dinner), and (ii) a Tomato and Peppers Stew – Hungarian Lecho (Lescho), prepared by a guy who was originally from Hungary but moved to Germany for work. This dish was absolutely amazing!

Tomato and Peppers Stew with Sausage in a serving bowl (Hungarian Lecho)
HUNGARIAN LECHO IS VERY POPULAR IN POLAND
This tomato and peppers stew, a classic Hungarian Lecho, was a very popular dish in Poland (I’ve even seen people referring to it as “Polish Lecho”. I assume the reason being was that many Poles would vacation by the Hungarian lake Balaton and therefore brought some of these popular dishes back home.

My family went there on few times and I very much remember the smell of cooked peppers and tomatoes everywhere I went. I used to make this dish often, back in Poland, and I must admit had I totally forgot about it! How did that happen???

Recently I went to my local farmers’ market and while standing in line to get some peppers and zucchini I heard my native language spoken. Two Polish ladies were debating what to cook for dinner. One of them said: how about Lecho?

I was stunned. I totally forgot about this dish called Lecho. It is/was beyond delicious. I felt compelled to go home and cook it immediately. I purchased all of the ingredients and went back home to start cooking this peppery, tomatoey goodness for dinner. Our house smelled like a vacation by the famous Balaton lake.

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