It's not easy to find Bulgarian recipes on the internet, and the recipe in my cookbook is lacking detail on this one recipe. I had lyuntenitsa several times in Bulgaria, and all of the versions had spices or herbs included, but none of the recipes I've found so far, do. I had to improvise.
My favorite version was at Skara Bar, in Sofia. I heard that theirs is not traditional, but that's fine. It included cinnamon, which was different from all the others, and that's fine, too.
|Skara Bar's beef, misc stuff, and lyutenitsa|
Originally, I used four tomatoes and a pint of cherry tomatoes. The cherry tomotoes were very ripe and very good, but talk about a mistake. Despite the fact that the skins do slip right off after the boiling water treatment, you do not want to skin thirty little tomatoes. Just make sure to buy tomatoes that are actually good and ripe, and adjust your numbers according to their size. 8 large, 12-15 roma, etc.
Serves: a lot when used as a condiment, a lot less when you eat it as a vegetable.
8 large tomatoes
3 red, yellow, or orange bell peppers, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic
1/4 tsp cinnamon
salt to taste
vinegar to taste
Skin the tomatoes by dropping them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, then fish them out. Make an X with a sharp knife on the stem end and peel with your fingers and/or a paring knife. The skin should pretty much slip off.
In a large saucepan, heat the oil until hot. Cook the onion, garlic, and peppers until soft and until the onions are translucent. Stir in the tomatoes and cinnamon, then bring it to a simmer.
Allow it to slowly simmer forever, or at least overnight.
Traditionally, this stuff would simmer all day and night, in huge cauldrons, thickening and breaking down until it's nice and thick and rich. To mimic this you have to be around, watching the uncovered pan simmer and thicken. A slow cooker tends to hold in a lot of the moisture, so going that route might mean putting on the stove for the last hour to reduce a bit. Doable, but extra steps.
Salt to taste. Vinegar to taste. Just a bit at a time and taste as you go. I started with one tsp at a time, finally settling on 3 tsp in the end.
Serve hot, warm, or cold. Serve as a dip, a sauce for meat, or as a side dish.
I meant to ask politely for the recipe when I was at Skara Bar, but I was full and satisfied, so I forgot. I'll have to write them when I get tired of not getting mine just right.