An incredibly versatile Spanish vegetable stew, pisto is the Spanish version of Italy's caponata and France's ratatouille. Made with an abundance of colourful vegetables poached in olive oil, it is deliciously rich, incredibly healthy.
Created using aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes, peppers and onions, you may wonder how the compilation of these simple ingredients can result in such a delicious dish? There are several secrets to achieving a delicious pisto that will have even those die-hard veggie haters coming back for more - lots of good quality olive oil, fresh, good quality produce and separately cooking the individual ingredients. This may seem like excessive effort but it guarantees a large pot of pisto which will provide several meals.
Pisto is usually served warm or at room temperature. Many people eat it with a poached or fried egg (ideal breakfast dish) or with Manchego cheese and bread. It is also delicious as a side dish with meat or fish and makes a great topping for grilled sour dough or left over baguette that you don't know what to do with!
- 3 large onions
- 2 red bell peppers
- 2 green bell peppers
- 3 courgettes
- 3 small peeled aubergines
- 1kg of ripe tomatoes - the more flavoursome the better! If you don't have any to hand use some good quality tinned tomatoes. Some people like to peel the tomatoes but you don't have to to achieve a good pisto
- 5 cloves of garlic
- 1 tsp of herbs - fresh oregano, thyme or rosemary
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp of brown or white sugar or honey to soften acidity of the tomatoes
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Lots of extra virgin olive oil
Peel the onions, aubergines and garlic and dice the vegetables according to the size you prefer. If you have particularly large, hard or bitter courgettes then it might be wise to remove the skin too
Place the diced aubergine on paper towels, sprinkle with salt and let them sit for 10-15 minutes. Salting removes excess liquid and bitterness and ensures a creamy texture and rich flavour when poaching it - it also requires less olive oil to cook the aubergine
Place a frying pan on a medium heat, add 4 tbsp of olive oil and add the diced onions. Sauté until they begin to turn transparent. Cover and cook on low heat until completely cooked without going brown. Set aside in a serving dish
Add the peppers to the pan with another 4 tbsp of olive oil and sauté over a medium high heat until they begin to brown. Lower to a medium heat and cover until soft. Set aside and combine with the onions
Using a colander, rinse the salt and any excess liquid off the aubergine and pat dry
Follow the same steps as the peppers to cook the zucchini and eggplant (in separate pans - you can do two pans at once if you have the space!). You want to start cooking them on a med-high heat until they start to brown. Then lower the heat and cover until tender, stirring occasionally. Add to the other vegetables, mixing to combine flavours
Add the herbs, cumin and salt to taste. Mix well
Now for the tomatoes - sauté the diced garlic in olive oil over medium heat until starting to lightly fry. Add the diced tomatoes. Cook over a gentle heat for about 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until the tomatoes have become mushy. Combine with the sugar and more salt if necessary
Now comes the alchemy! Add all of your vegetable to the tomato sauce. Mix everything well, and cook for 10 minutes over a gentle heat. Test for seasoning and enjoy!
Homemade Pisto | 📷 Deborah Blank
TIP: If you fancy adding some spice, place a small, pricked chill into the tomatoes when you are cooking to give them a slightly spicy depth of flavour. You can save this and add to the pisto later to spice it up as a pasta sauce or for your "pisto con pan tostado" (pisto with grilled bread)