Sweet-spicy fragrant lutenitsa is one of the most popular dishes of sunny Bulgaria. This tender sauce is served with meat, fish or toast, as the combination of sweet peppers and tomatoes perfectly harmonizes with any product. However, many people use homemade lutenitsa as an independent cold snack, because its universal taste is pleasant to everyone without exception.
There are many recipes for cooking lutenitsa in Bulgarian, because each housewife seeks to bring her own characteristic flavor to this dish, to make it unforgettable and unique. However, they are all based on the classic recipe, which is followed by the best Bulgarian chefs for more than a decade. How to cook a traditional lutenitsa at home, while retaining the enchanting aroma and richness of snacks? How can you vary the dish and how to save it for the winter? Recipes and tips collected in the article will help expand gastronomic horizons without leaving home!
Principles of cooking traditional lutenitsa
Despite the fact that the name speaks of the typical spiciness of the dish (in translation from Bulgarian “fierce” means “spicy”), the classic snack is quite tender and savory. The basis of the sauce is sweet peppers, peeled from the skins and seeds. Traditionally choose the most fleshy and ripe red fruits – they have a richer flavor and bake faster. The ideal option is a type of kapiya – these are the peppers used by renowned chefs for classic lutenitsa.
As for the other ingredients, everything is variable. Usually, tomatoes, eggplants, carrots, garlic, chili, and other vegetables are added to the lutenica – it all depends on the preferences of the hostess. The only condition that must be met – the amount of pepper must be at least 50% of the total number of all ingredients. Knowing the technology and the main principles of cooking lutenitsa, you can safely experiment in search of the desired composition of snacks.
The classic recipe of the Bulgarian sauce
To make traditional lutenite, you will need:
- 3 meaty bell peppers;
- 3 large ripe tomatoes;
- 1 chili pepper;
- 3-4 cloves of garlic;
- a sprig of parsley;
- 1 medium eggplant;
- 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil;
- tablespoon of salt;
- a teaspoon of sugar;
- a pinch of black pepper.
In addition, it is worth preparing your favorite seasonings – their number and composition are selected to taste. Usually, Zira, paprika, patisole, thyme, coriander are added to the Bulgarian lutenitsa, but this list can be supplemented with any spices and herbs that you like.
The cooking process with step by step photos and recommendations
To make Bulgarian lutenica tasty and fragrant, strictly adhere to the following algorithm of actions:
- Bake the peppers and eggplants in an oven preheated to 200 degrees until half cooked (about 20-25 minutes). Remove the baked vegetables, cool slightly and peel: remove the peeling film from the peppers and carefully clean the seeds, carefully cut off the skin from the eggplant.
Tip! To make it easier to remove the peppers from the peppers, immediately after baking, place them in a bag and tie them tightly. As it cools, when the fruits “sweat”, the skin will separate itself, and you will only have to remove it from the juicy pulp.
- Slice the tomatoes crosswise, preserving the integrity of the pulp. Pour boiling water over each fruit and gently separate the skin, then cut into several pieces and try to take out the maximum number of seeds – they can spoil the taste of lyutenitsa, making it heterogeneous and grainy.
- Put the pulp of tomatoes in a blender, add pre-peeled garlic and thoroughly washed parsley. Crush all of these ingredients to a smooth mash.
- Put the tomato puree on low heat, add olive or sunflower oil, bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes until the excess liquid has evaporated.
- Chop the peppers and eggplants into medium sized pieces, place them in a blender and grind to complete homogeneity.
- After the excess liquid is evaporated from the tomato mass, add the pepper-eggplant puree, spices, salt, stir and simmer for about half an hour.
Tip! A sure sign that the lutenica has cooked is the glossy surface of the sauce. And if, while stirring, it does not immediately take on its original form, it means that you have achieved the required density.
Ready-made sauce can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks – it retains its original taste for a long time. And if you want to prepare lutenitsu for the winter, you should put the hot mass in carefully washed jars and sterilize for about half an hour – so you can enjoy a savory snack with bell peppers all year round.
Variations of the dish
If you want to experiment a little, you can use the unconventional method of cooking Bulgarian lutenitsa for every taste:
- For connoisseurs of acute. Chili, red pepper and garlic will help to add spicy savor to the dish. Chili bake with Bulgarian pepper, but do not peel the seeds, and add garlic and red pepper to the sauce for 5-10 minutes until ready. Focusing on your own taste, you can gradually bring the lutenitsa to the desired sharpness.
- Sweetish sauce. To give lutenitse light notes of sweetness, add carrots or apples to it – they will smooth out the possible sourness of tomatoes. For 1 kg of peppers, about 200 grams of carrots or sweet apples are enough to make the sauce even more tender. Carrots can be boiled beforehand, and then chopped in a blender together with pepper-eggplant mass. And it is better to bake apples together with pepper and eggplants, not forgetting later to remove the skin and remove the seeds.
- Bulgarian lutenite with sourness. If you like more acidic sauces, increase the percentage of tomatoes (for example, replace them with eggplants) and choose sour varieties. If desired, you can add a little table vinegar or apple cider vinegar – so lutenitsa will be stored longer.
- Hearty snack. Classic lutenica is a low-calorie dish that suits even diet diets. To make it more high-calorie, you can add a little more vegetable oil or pre-fry the onions and grated carrots until golden brown. You can also increase the calorie content of the dish due to baked potatoes – as a result, the snack will turn out not only satisfying but also thicker.
Some add some flour or potato starch to the lutenica as a thickener. However, in this case, it will not be possible to use it as a sauce for meat – the finished result will resemble more a vegetable stew that is served as a side dish. You can spread such lutenitsu on toasts or eat with brynza – it’s hard to imagine a more versatile dish! Experiment with the ingredients and their percentage – and you can discover new facets of delicious Bulgarian cuisine!