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Hungarian Pepper and Tomato Stew – Vegan Lecso Recipe

by Adina 07/11/2017 17 comments

Vegan Hungarian Lecso with rice
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Lecso – a typical Hungarian vegetable dish with tomatoes and peppers, a delicious vegan meal with rice or a perfect side dish for any kind of meat, sausage or fish.

Lecso is the kind of dish you will find in many world cuisines, similar ones are the French Piperade, the Middle Eastern Shakshuka, the Turkish Menemen, the Spanish Pisto or the Italian Peperonata. The Czech and the Slovak call it Leco, the Polish Lezco, the German Letscho and the Russian something in Cyrillic that I cannot read, but which I am sure sounds pretty similar. 🙂

Vegan Hungarian Lecso with rice

Peppers and tomatoes smothered together to make a delicious and very comforting stew, often eaten with eggs cooked directly in the stew, yet still perfect for either eating it plain with some rice, polenta or bread or alongside a piece of meat or fish. I actually cook lecso mostly as presented today, plain, without the eggs, because I love it as a side dish for meat or fish and because since making Yotam Ottolenghi’s Shakshuka Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi, Hungarian Pepper and Tomato Stew – Vegan Lecso Recipe for the first time, I keep sticking to that whenever I feel like having a tomato dish with eggs.

Vegan Hungarian Lecso with rice

Lecso or a similar version of it is a very common dish to find in many houses all over Transylvania. Peppers and tomatoes are plentiful in summer and autumn and, nowadays, making lecso in winter should not get any difficult either. If I can get ripe and juicy tomatoes in summer I use them to make lecso, otherwise I use a can of tomatoes, they are a million times better than some of the tasteless and watery tomatoes I sometimes find in the supermarket.

Like mentioned above, Lecso can be made plain the way I make it most of the times, it can be enriched with sausage or meat (mostly pork) or it can be kept vegetarian/vegan by adding potatoes or cooked rice directly to the dish. If you decide to add meat, you should start by frying the meat and the onions first, like you would do when making any other kind of goulash or meat stew and then add the peppers and the tomatoes.

If you would like to make Lecso with eggs, cook the lecso following this recipe and add about 3 beaten, salted and peppered eggs to the mixture at the end of the cooking time. Stir for some more minutes until the eggs have set.

Vegan Hungarian Lecso with rice

I prefer to use pointed red peppers to make lecso, sometimes combined with 1 or 2 yellow pointed peppers. Red bell peppers can be used instead, but I have actually never used them for this dish, for me the authenticity of lecso lies in the use of pointed peppers, like in Romania. 🙂 A red chili is a must, if you ask me. I use the Romanian kind of red chili, which is a rather long variety and not too hot. If you use another kind of chili, be careful with the dosage, start with less and add more to taste.

And here are some more vegan stew ideas:

Simple and Spicy Cabbage Turmeric Stew – Vegan Recipe

Leek and Black Olive Stew – Romanian Recipe

Vegan Soy Granules Vegetable Stew with Wine

Vegan Eggplant Slices in Homemade Tomato Garlic Sauce

Vegan Hungarian Lecso with rice

Vegan Hungarian Lecso with rice

Hungarian Pepper and Tomato Stew – Vegan Lecso Recipe

104sharesShareTweetPinLast Updated on 23/03/2020Lecso – a typical Hungarian vegetable dish with tomatoes and peppers, a delicious vegan meal with rice or a perfect side dish… Eastern European Recipes Hungarian Pepper and Tomato Stew – Vegan Lecso Recipe European Print This
Serves: 4 Prep Time: Cooking Time:
Nutrition facts: 200 calories 20 grams fat
Rating: 5.0/5
( 1 voted )


  • 2 large onions
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 500 g/ 1.1 lbs red pointed peppers
  • 1 red chili (See note 1)
  • 500 g/ 1.1 lbs ripe tomatoes or 1 can of tomatoes 450 g/ 1 lbs (See note 2)
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika powder
  • ½ teaspoon hot paprika powder
  • 1 bunch of parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • Optional: 3 large eggs


Quarter the onion and thinly slice the quarters.

Heat the oil and cook the onion until slightly golden. Add 3 tablespoons water, cover the pot and cook the onions until soft, about 10 minutes. Stir several times in between.

In the meantime, deseed the peperoni and the peppers and slice them thinly. Add them to the pot, add another 2-3 tablespoons of water, cover and cook on low heat for further 10 minutes.

Add the sweet and the hot paprika powder and stir well to coat the vegetables. Add the chopped tomatoes or the tomatoes from the can including all their juices. If using fresh tomatoes you might need to add a bit more water, it really depends on how juicy they are. Start with 2-3 tablespoons and add more later if the dish looks dry. It is important to use really good, ripe and flavorful tomatoes, if you cannot find them stick to the canned tomatoes or add about 1 or 2 tablespoons tomato paste to the dish together with the paprika powder.

Stir well and cook for further 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Adjust the taste with salt and pepper.

If you would like to add the eggs, whisk them well in a small bowl, add some salt and pepper and give them to the lecso. Stir and cook the eggs gently until they are set.

Sprinkle the dish with lots of chopped parsley and serve with rice, polenta or bread or as a side dish for meat, fish or sausages (only the eggless version is suitable as a side dish).


1. With seeds or deseeded, only ½ or more than 1, depending on taste and hotness of the chili. 2. Only use ripe and flavorful fresh tomatoes, if you cannot get any, it is much better to use canned tomatoes than unripe fresh ones.

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Kate @ Framed Cooks 07/11/2017 - 19:28

This is such a bright and colorful dish! And I can totally see making it into a full meal by adding sausage or chicken, and I LOVE the idea of cooking eggs in it! Perfect for fall! 🙂

Adina 08/11/2017 - 19:01

I love it with sausage as well, it really adds something, I’ve even made it with chorizo once, a really hot kind, it was great! 🙂

Denise Browning 07/11/2017 - 23:51

How delicious, Adina! I need some vegetarian recipes like this as sometimes I don’t eat meat one and a while.

Adina 08/11/2017 - 18:57

Thank you, Denise, I hope you will get a chance to make it.

Marvellina|What To Cook Today 08/11/2017 - 03:29

I wonder if we can find Romanian peppers here, probably not here in Minnesota. This dish looks amazing ! Love the vibrant red color

Adina 08/11/2017 - 18:55

Maybe if you find a Turkish or Middle Eastern shop, they sell this kind of pointed red and yellow peppers as well.

Inge Kohl 08/11/2017 - 05:34

I grew up eating something like this, but it never had eggs in it. My parents lived in Yogoslavia before moving to Germany in 1957. We called it Satarasch. I googled it and found some recipes similar to yours. A lot of them did add meat to it as well, but when you look for vegtarian Satarasch you can find some similar to yours. One of the seasonings they used and I always have on hand is Vegeta. I remember my mother used to have friends bring it from Hungaria when they would travel there. Luckily I have been able to find it here in California.

Adina 08/11/2017 - 10:08

Hi Inge,
Yes Vegeta, my grandmother used it a lot as well. 🙂 I have never seen it here, but then I have never really searched, I should have a look in the Russian store, I can imagine finding it there. Lecso is very common all over Eastern Europe and there are probably a million versions of it. I tried some of these versions and I liked them all.

[email protected]'s Recipes 08/11/2017 - 07:38

I love the bright red colour and wonderful flavour! A simple yet very delicious meal.

Adina 08/11/2017 - 18:53

Thank you, Angie.

Evi @ greenevi 08/11/2017 - 10:25

Oh, lecso is so good! I used to eat this all summer long in Hungary when I was small 🙂 It’s such a simple dish, but tastes always so amazing! Wonderful recipe, Adina!

Adina 08/11/2017 - 18:54

I refused to eat it as a child because I hated cooked peppers! How that changed! 🙂

François 27/12/2017 - 15:32

Lesco is sooooooo delicious!!! that’s the real taste of Hungary : )

Adina 27/12/2017 - 15:57

You’re right, Francois! 🙂

Sissi 08/11/2017 - 17:32

Your lecso looks beautiful! I had no idea it was made in so many countries! I actually prepare lecso quite often, but my favourite are the light yellow long peppers. They have such an amazing aroma… if I don’t put them into the fridge quickly the whole kitchen smells like peppers. Like you, I always add some fresh chilli peppers too of course!

Adina 08/11/2017 - 18:59

I like it with yellow peppers as well, or better said a combination of red and yellow. I have them all the time in the fridge, either red or yellow, they are my favorite kind of peppers, I have them raw or cooked every day.

grace 10/11/2017 - 01:35

hearty, delicious, and so vibrant! this dish has it all, adina. 🙂


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