Hungarian leczó (aka lecho; letcho), is classic stew of bell peppers and tomatoes slow-cooked to a silky texture. The most delicious way to present this simple recipe is in shallow bowls with a crusty bread to mop up the delicious broth, but you can serve it over rice as well.
Best made with firm tomatoes like Roma (plum) tomatoes or tomatoes on vine, both of which are available year-round, the real star of this dish is bell pepper. You’ll need three, and you can use any color, but a combination is more pleasing to the eye. If you were to choose only one color, I’d recommend red bell peppers, which are the sweetest.
The dish is simply seasoned with a little sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes, and paprika. This recipe calls for both sweet and smoked paprika, but you can swap in an extra teaspoon of sweet paprika for the smoked if you’d like a milder result.
Often served in shallow bowls as a side dish, Hungarian leczó is good warm or at room temperature. In the original recipe, sausage is sometimes added to make it a main dish; here, of course, we use vegan sausage as an optional add-in. It’s such a common and beloved dish in its country of origin that “lecsó” is sometimes used as a verb, meaning to be in a state of in-between-ness!
Vegan sausage brands: Amy’s, Beyond, Field Roast, Gardein, Morningstar Farms, No Evil, Tofurky, and The Very Good Butchers all make excellent vegan sausage. You may find store brands as well. They’re all good! The main ingredients are usually vital wheat gluten and/or tofu (be alert, though, if you have gluten or soy sensitivity).
Shown here with optional vegan sausage. Photos by Hannah Kaminsky, BittersweetBlog.com.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium onions, quartered and thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 bell peppers, any color, or a combination, cut into 1/2- by 2-inch strips
- 4 medium ripe, firm tomatoes or 6 Roma (plum) tomatoes, diced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons natural granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or swap in an extra teaspoon of sweet paprika)
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a large skillet or stir-fry pan. Add the onions and sauté over medium-low heat until golden, about 8 minutes
- Add the garlic and bell peppers and continue to sauté over medium-low heat until the peppers have softened, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in the tomatoes, sugar, and paprika and continue to cook over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the peppers are nicely stewed.
- Season with salt and pepper and serve hot or allow to cool and serve at room temperature as a side dish on its own in shallow bowls.
Variation: To make this more of a main dish, add 2 to 3 links vegan sausage, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices, in step 2.
If you like the peppers and vegan sausage variation, you might also enjoy …
See more easy vegan side dishes.