Pisto, sometimes called Spanish ratatouille, is a simple vegetarian stew that’s perfect for using up your abundance of summer vegetables.
Pisto is another one of those recipes that has a multitude of variations. Peppers and tomatoes are essential but you can add a variety of other vegetables, herbs or no herbs, sometimes with cumin, served plain or topped with cheese or eggs.
You can choose to chop your veggies finely or keep them a bit chunky like I have done. You’ll find some pisto recipes swimming in oil (I just saw one calling for 300 ml of olive oil!) and others quite dry. Mine falls somewhere in between with a saucy tomato stew-like consistency.
Pisto is often called Spanish ratatouille since the ingredients are so similar. The biggest difference is in the method of cooking. Pisto is most often cooked in one big pan, each vegetable added one by one according to its cooking time whereas ratatouille cooks each vegetable separately and then combines them at the end.
Cooking the vegetables all together sort of steams rather than fries them and the juices combine into a wonderful sauce-like consistency. That’s why we usually eat pisto with a baguette or crusty bread in order to mop up all that saucy goodness.
For my Spanish vegetable stew I chose to use a combination of red and green peppers, eggplant, onion, garlic, zucchini and crushed tomatoes. In Spain we usually use cubanelle or Italian frying peppers (in the picture on the right) instead of green bell peppers but don’t worry if you can’t find them – bell peppers will be fine.
I also vastly reduced the quantity of oil in my recipe since I don’t like the greasiness of the pisto I usually get in restaurants. Although the oil does add a lot of flavour, it’s just icky in your mouth. If you love olive oil though feel free to add more to the pan or a drizzle over your pisto when you serve.
This recipe is quite substantial, which is good because the leftovers taste even better the next day after the flavours have mingled. Serve pisto alongside a bowl of fresh watermelon gazpacho or this vegan Spanish omelet.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, or more to taste
- 1 large onion, diced
- 8 cloves of garlic, sliced but not too thin so they don’t burn
- 1 medium red bell pepper, diced small
- 2 medium cubanelle / Italian frying peppers or 1 medium green bell pepper, diced small
- 2 medium zucchini, diced about 2 cm / 1 inch
- 1 medium eggplant, diced the same as the zucchini
- 14 oz (400 gr) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt, or to taste
- Freshly cracked black pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano or 2 teaspoons dried
- A pinch of sugar, optional
- Bread for serving
- In a large wide pan heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onion and fry until beginning to brown then add the garlic and fry until soft.
- Add the red and green peppers and fry, stirring occasionally, until soft.
- Now add the zucchini and fry till soft and finally add the eggplant and fry till soft.
- In goes the can of crushed tomatoes, salt and pepper (if you’re using dried oregano add it now as well), and gently simmer until you have a thick sauce – about 15 minutes.
- Finally, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the fresh oregano. Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if you think it’s necessary. Lots of people add a pinch of sugar if they think the tomatoes are sour but it's totally optional.
- You can serve pisto warm or cold. Serve with bread. You can drizzle with a bit more oil if you like.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 182 Total Fat: 8g Saturated Fat: 1g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 6g Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 690mg Carbohydrates: 28g Fiber: 7g Sugar: 11g Protein: 5g
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