WEB EXCLUSIVE: Hungarian Baked Vegetable Stew

February/March 2009

Serves 8

Hungary grows many kinds and great amounts of sweet and chili peppers, and produces some of the world's finest paprika from them. This hearty vegetable stew blends the subtle flavors of bay and paprika with the robust flavors of chili and red wine to create an intriguing medley of flavors. We like this in the fall, with bread, a simple salad, and of course, Hungarian red wine. It is a good dish to make ahead, as the flavor mellows and deepens.

• 4 tablespoons olive oil
• 4 large shallots, diced
• 1 medium red or green sweet pepper, diced
• 1 medium red onion, diced
• 5 garlic cloves, minced
• 3 or 4 bay leaves
• 1 pound potatoes
• 2 large carrots
• 2 turnips or parsnips
• 1 rutabaga, about 4 inches in diameter
• 1 tart green apple
• 19-ounce can of chopped tomatoes
• About 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 
• 1 tablespoon light honey
• 2 teaspoons Hungarian paprika
• 1 chili pepper, ground, 1 teaspoon half-sharp paprika or scant 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
• 1/2 cup chopped parsley
• 3 cups Hungarian red wine or other rich red wine
• 1/2 cup sour cream

1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over moderate heat and add shallot, pepper, and onion. Stir in the minced garlic and bay leaves, and cook for about 5 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350º F.

2. Wash, peel if necessary, and rough chop potatoes, carrots, turnips or parsnips, rutabagas, and apple. Add to skillet along with tomatoes and cook for about 5 minutes.

3. Stir in salt, paprika, chili pepper, parsley and red wine. Mix ingredients thoroughly and transfer to a lightly oiled earthenware or ceramic casserole. Cover and bake for 1 hour.

4. Reduce heat to 300º F and bake 1 hour longer. Remove the casserole from the oven and let stand, covered, for about 15 minutes. Serve in individual bowls, and pass with sour cream.

This recipe is an adaptation of one that appeared in Herbs in the Kitchen by Carolyn Dille and Susan Belsinger.

Click here for the original article, 2009 Herb of the Year: Bay (Laurus Nobilis).