This Spanish Pisto is like a ratatouille (stewed vegetables), it’s spiced with some paprika and served with an egg on top. It’s simple and ready in 40 minutes.
What is Spanish Pisto?
Spanish Pisto, often referred to as “Spanish Ratatouille,” is a traditional Spanish dish originating from the region of La Mancha.
It’s essentially a stew made from a variety of vegetables, typically including tomatoes, onions, eggplant (or aubergine), zucchini (or courgette), and bell peppers.
The vegetables are slow-cooked in olive oil, allowing their flavors to mingle and create a rich, hearty dish.
The cooking process gives Pisto a soft texture, similar to the French Ratatouille, but the flavor profile is distinctly Spanish due to the particular combination of ingredients and spices used.
Pisto is often served as a tapa (appetizer) with bread, as a side dish, or even as a main course. It’s very versatile and can also be used as a filling for empanadas or served with a fried or poached egg on top.
Why You Should Try This Spanish Pisto
- Healthy: There are multiple servings of veggies in this dish. You have the eggplant, zucchini, red bell peppers onions, and tomatoes. That’s a lot of the vitamins, minerals and fiber you need in a day right there, plus the eggs add a great bit of protein that makes for a balanced meal.
- Great flavors: Since the pisto is cooked slowly, the flavors really develop and blend together nicely. It’s comforting, hearty and satisfying.
- Easy to make: Everything is made in one pan, with the cooking process simply cooking the veggies and simmering the tomatoes
- Versatile: Different regions have different variations of pisto, so you can always try different options. If you have any left over veggies, you can easily throw them in. Whether you want it as a main dish or as part of of a small dish like a tapas, it works in many situations.
Ratatouille vs Pisto
Ratatouille and pisto are both vegetable medleys originating in different regions of Europe. Ratatouille hails from France and pisto from Spain.
While they share some similarities, there are some differences.
- Cooking process: A traditional approach to cooking ratatouille involves cooking each vegetable separately before combining them and then simmering together. Pisto typically involves sautéing the vegetables in a particular order in the same pan, leading to a melded flavor profile, with a more straightforward process.
- Different spices used: Ratatouille commonly uses herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and herbes de Provence (a blend of several dried herbs) are commonly used, whereas pisto is distinguished by its use of paprika.
- Different presentations: Pisto is often served with eggs (fried or poached) on top, or even manchego cheese and is usually accompanied by crusty bread. Ratatouille emphasizes the individual vegetables more. Some modern renditions, popularized by films like “Ratatouille”, present the dish with thinly sliced veggies arranged in a concentric circle and then baked.
Ingredients (+ Substitutions)
These are the ingredients you’ll need to make this Spanish pisto:
- Extra virgin olive oil: choosing the best quality extra virgin olive oil is really important in this recipe. Extra virgin olive oil is far better quality than standard olive oil, pure olive etc. A good quality EVOO will have a slightly fruity taste.
- Veggies: all the summer veggies are used in this Spanish pisto – eggplant, zucchini (courgette) and bell peppers. The flavors of a Spanish pisto rest on its veggies, so choose good quality ones. That means firm, glossy-skinned eggplant with a deep purple hue, firm tough zucchini skins and taut, glossy skins for the bell peppers.
- Onions + garlic: the classic base for many recipes.
- Canned chopped tomatoes: traditionally freshly chopped tomatoes would be used, but sometimes you need to take a little shortcut. We’ve used canned chopped tomatoes, but tomato passata can also work too. Good-quality canned tomatoes should have a nice sweet flavor.
- Paprika: normal or sweet paprika is used here. This paprika has a noticeably sweeter, slightly fruity flavour, with some pepperness.
- Salt, pepper and sugar: a pinch of sugar when the chopped tomatoes are added helps balance its acidity. Salt helps amplify spices, helping the paprika stand out in this dish.
- Eggs: the eggs are fried separately within this recipe and added on top at the end. Some recipes will cook the egg within the mixture. Try both and see what works for you! This is a Pisto con Huevo (ratatouille with eggs) but manchego cheese is a popular type of pisto that uses cheese instead of eggs (pisto manchego).
- Bread: any crusty bread is great to mop all those delicious tomatoey juices.
How to Make this Spanish Pisto
Step 1 – First, prepare all your vegetables: Peel and dice the onion and garlic. Cut the eggplants, zucchinis and bell peppers into small, approximately equal-sized pieces.
Step 2 – In a large pan or pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for an extra 30 seconds, then add the bell peppers, eggplant and zucchini pieces to the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes until they begin to brown and soften.
Step 3 – Add the salt and black pepper to taste along with the paprika and mix into the vegetables, then add the drained canned tomatoes. Turn down to a low heat and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes until it thickens up some more. Add a pinch of sugar if you want to take out some of the acidity.
Step 4 – Cook the eggs separately according to your liking for each serving, then serve the pisto warm.
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Cooking Tips for Spanish Pisto
- If you have the time, then you can fry the eggplant and zucchini separately, which allows them to caramelize slightly. However, it does make things a little bit longer and fidgety, so we’ve kept it all within one pan to make things easier.
- Make sure you use a good quality olive oil – a good one will have a lovely fruity taste. It’s also incredibly healthy with lots of healthy monounsaturated. Unless you absolutely need to track calories, don’t worry about using a little extra oil.
- Traditionally freshly chopped tomatoes would be used, but sometimes you need to take a little shortcut. We’ve used canned chopped tomatoes, but tomato passata can also work too. Good-quality canned tomatoes should have a nice sweet flavor. We’ve used 28 oz (800g) canned tomatoes, which is quite a lot. If you want a pisto with less liquid, drain some of the chopped tomatoes.
- 1 eggplant, diced into cubes
- 1 zucchini
- 1 red bell pepper
- 1 green bell pepper
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 28 oz (800g) can chopped tomato, half drained
- 1 tsp sweet paprika
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 eggs
- Pinch of sugar, to taste
- Crusty bread, for serving
- Peel and dice the onion and garlic. Cut the eggplants, zucchinis and bell peppers into small, approximately equal-sized pieces.
- In a large pan or pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until it becomes translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic and cook for an extra 30 seconds, then add the bell peppers, eggplant and zucchini pieces to the pan and cook for 5-10 minutes until they begin to brown and soften.
- Add the salt and black pepper to taste along with the paprika and mix into the vegetables, then add the drained canned tomatoes. Turn down to a low heat and let simmer for about 15-20 minutes until it thickens up some more. Add a pinch of sugar if you want to take out some of the acidity.
- Cook the eggs separately according to your liking for each serving, then serve the pisto warm.
Amount Per Serving Calories 455Total Fat 21gSaturated Fat 4gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 16gCholesterol 186mgSodium 229mgCarbohydrates 59gFiber 16gSugar 32gProtein 17g
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