Főzelék, a seasonal dish that's very much Hungarian
Hungarian cuisine isn’t all about heavy meat stews and hearty dishes with an overdose of paprika. Főzelék, which probably translates best as creamed vegetables, is a very popular Hungarian main dish.
Hungary produces plenty of vegetables and as kids we grew up on főzelék, which was not only prepared at home but was also one of the most common dishes served in school cafeterias. Every kid loves ’zöldborsófőzelék’, made of sweet green peas, while ’tökfőzelék’, made of summer squash, is probably their least-liked. Főzelék is a seasonal dish, as it’s best made from garden fresh vegetables (however canned or frozen veggies can also be used). In the summer different types of creamed vegetables are available in restaurants throughout the city. Főzelék is so popular that there are Hungarian restaurant chains dedicated to it.
Főzelék is quick and easy to make and almost any type of vegetable can be used. Green peas, spinach, summer squash, green beans, lentils and beans are the most popular. There are several variations and most households have their own recipe. Basically, főzelék is cooked vegetables thickened with roux. Depending on the vegetable used and personal taste, roux can be prepared either by mixing flour with hot oil or butter, or mixing flour with sour cream. Some recipes call for adding milk, which makes spinach and green peas especially tasty. Some recipes add garlic and/or fresh herbs like parsley or dill. Főzelék is usually served with eggs, roasted or fried meat or meat loaf.
I love főzelék and I have my own super healthy creamed vegetable recipe with a twist. It uses potatoes for thickening instead of a roux-based sauce. Try my version of ‘finomfőzelék’ or ’tasty creamed vegetables’ made with green peas, carrots and kohlrabi.
250 grams green peas
150 grams diced carrots
150 grams diced kohlrabi
1 teaspoon sugar
2 dl milk
1 vegetable cube (or bouillon cube)
Cut the potatoes in half and add them to 4dl of water together with the vegetable cube. Bring to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes. Add the peas, carrots, kohlrabi, sugar and 2 dl of milk. Cook for another 15-20 minutes (or until the potatoes are soft). Remove the potatoes and mash them using a hand mixer until creamy. Add the potatoes back with the vegetables and cook for about two more minutes, while stirring constantly. It's simple and quick. Serve with eggs or fried meat.
Bon appétit! (Jó étvágyat!)
If you are a fan of Hungarian cuisine and like vegetables and seasonal cooking check out our recipe for lecsó, a green pepper and tomato stew.