Now that I’ve finished recapping my Eastern European trip from last September, I wanted to share a recipe for a classic dish from one of the countries I visited. Taking into consideration the freezing cold temperatures outside in New England right now, and my souvenir stash of paprika from Budapest, I settled on paprikash. It’s a Hungarian dish traditionally made with chicken, but since I ate my weight in mushrooms during those 2 weeks, I figured I they might as well work here, too.
And I’m pleased to say — they did!
If you’re like me, you hear the word “paprikash” and immediately think of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally (“Waiter, there is too much pepper on my paprikash!”), but the dish should be famous in its own right. The starring ingredient in paprikash is paprika, the most common spice in Hungarian cuisine. Here, sweet paprika is paired with sour cream and crushed tomatoes to make a rich and flavorful sauce that’s delicious served over egg noodles.
To start things off, I cooked up some portabella mushrooms, red pepper, and onion until soft and fragrant. With the exception of freshly baked bread, I don’t think anything in the world smells better than this holy trio on the stove.
Then it was time to add a little vegetable stock, crushed tomatoes, and paprika. I’d purchased a bag in Budapest’s Great Market Hall and have been waiting for a good reason to break it open.
After bubbling and reducing down while the egg noodles cooked, it was time to add the sour cream just before serving. I just dug my spoon in a few times and plopped it right on top…
Stir to combine, then ladle over hot egg noodles, garnish with parsley, and serve!
I thought this was such an easy and flavorful dish, and since the noodles can be swapped for rice, quinoa, gnocchi, spaetzle, or even baked potatoes, there are limitless ways to add a little paprikash to your life. No flight required!
Adapted from BBC Good Food
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces sliced portabella mushrooms
1 medium red pepper, seeded and chopped
1 medium onion, halved and sliced thin
salt and pepper
2 cups vegetable stock
14 ounces crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons sweet paprika
8 ounces egg noodles
4 tablespoons sour cream
chopped parsley (optional)
Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling. Heat a large sauté pan over medium-high heat until hot. Add the oil, then the onion, mushrooms and pepper. Season well with salt and pepper (the salt will help draw the moisture from the mushrooms). Cook, stirring frequently, for about 6-8 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and the onion is just golden.
Add the paprika, tomatoes, and vegetable stock and stir to combine. Reduce heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes or until slightly reduced and thickened, stirring occasionally.
While the sauce simmers, add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook according to package instructions. When done, drain well and return to the pot. Toss with a drizzle of olive oil to prevent drying.
Just before serving, stir the sour cream into the sauce until smooth and hot, season to taste, then ladle on top of egg noodles. Alternately, you can choose to serve the sour cream on the side of the sauce. Garnish with parsley, if using.
Yield: 4 servings.