As I learned about my family's heritage, I discovered that the peasants of Eastern Europe were weekday vegetarians, long before it became fashionable. One of the staple dishes in the summer is Tök Fözelék, and my grandmother prepared a particularly tasty version. It can be served as a side to grilled meats, but it also makes a light meal served with sautéed new potatoes or eggy spatzle.
Fözelék is a traditional vegetable preparation, the veggies lightly stewed and a savory white sauce or stabilized sour cream added. For Hungarians, paprika and sour cream are their own food groups!
Quantities listed below are estimates; a little more or less either way will make it uniquely your own. Jó étvágyat! —Windischgirl
- Serves 4
Cleaned Zucchini or summer squash
Bell peppers, one red, one green
Clove garlic, crushed
Salt and pepper
- Any size zucchini will do, but if yours is large, remove the large seeds before proceeding. Shred the zucchini on the largest holes of a box grater; the shredding blade of a food processor also works well. You want to end up with about 2 lbs. of shredded zucchini. In a large sieve set over a bowl, layer the zucchini, salting each layer well. Set aside for at least 30 minutes to drain, tossing occasionally.
- Meanwhile, julienne the bell and hot peppers. In a skillet large enough to hold all ingredients, heat the oil. Add the garlic, peppers, caraway, and a pinch of salt and sauté until just softened. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add more oil to the skillet and heat gently. Squeeze the zucchini, a handful at a time, removing as much liquid as possible. I use a potato ricer for this job, but you can simply use your hands or wring out the zucchini in a dish towel. Add the zucchini to the warmed skillet.
- Once you've added all the zucchini, turn up the heat to medium and sauté the zucchini, stirring, until the liquid is evaporated. Do not brown! Add the sautéed pepper mixture and the paprika and stir well.
- At this stage, the zucchini can be stored; pack tightly into freezer safe containers or freezer bags, removing as much air as possible, chill, and then freeze until needed. Heat gently when ready to eat.
- Finish the dish: add the 2 Tbs. of flour directly into the sour cream container and whisk until smooth. Stir the sour cream into the hot (not boiling) zucchini mixture and whisk until smooth. Simmer about 2 minutes until it thickens slightly and the flour no longer tastes raw.
- Stir in the dill, adjust the seasonings, and enjoy.