Pisto (Spanish Vegetable Stew)

Having enjoyed traditional Spanish pisto on many occasions during my travels, I’ve always wanted to make it at home and share a recipe with you on the blog. It’s a dish that brings a lot of warm memories and I hope you like it as much as I do.


Pisto Recipe (Amazing Spanish Vegetable Stew)

As some of my readers know, I have spent a considerable amount of time in Spain. While staying in a small town of Margalef in Catalunia, I often ate out at a family-run restaurant called Vernet and I ordered the same thing: local sausage with salad and pisto. At first, I didn’t even know what pisto was as I simply pointed at someone else’s plate when ordering but I fell in love with this dish from the first bite.

What is pisto?

Pisto is the Spanish version of France’s ratatouille, Italy’s caponata or Turkey’s imam bayildi. It’s a hearty vegetable stew made with eggplant, zucchini, onion, tomatoes, red and green peppers, and lots of olive oil. Like with the other Mediterranean vegetable stews, the key is good quality olive oil (and lots of it!) and fresh, seasonal vegetables. Pisto is originally from the Murcia region of Spain but can be found in the rest of the country.

 

Spanish Pisto Recipe

Pisto is usually served warm and can be accompanied by an egg (great for breakfast) or some Manchego cheese and bread, or it comes as a side dish with meat or fish. It’s a fantastic vegetable dish for those following a Paleo/Whole30/gluten-free or vegetarian diets. I usually make a large batch of it to serve as a side dish for dinner, with eggs for breakfast, or with some grilled chicken or sausage for lunch as it tastes good cold too. It keeps well in the fridge (4-5 days) and can be frozen.

HOW TO MAKE a good pisto

After talking to the restaurant owner and doing a little bit of research into this dish, I learnt a simple secret to achieving that really rich, deep flavour: no shortcuts! While it would be easier to simply cook all the vegetables together at once, it makes a big difference if you fry off the eggplant and the zucchini separately (which caramelises them slightly) and pre-cook the onions with peppers and tomatoes before combining everything together.

How to make pisto vegetable stew- steps 1 of 2

Make sure to get the freshest vegetables possible and don’t worry about the amount of olive oil used in the dish. It might seem like a lot but olive oil is incredibly healthy, especially if you get good quality, cold-pressed olive oil. If you pair this dish with low-carb protein, then you don’t need to worry about the fat.

How to make Spanish pisto vegetable stew- steps 2

Many Spaniards will use freshly chopped tomatoes but I have seen many recipes with tinned chopped tomatoes or tomato passata. Once again, I use the best brand of tinned organic tomatoes as they tend to be sweeter in flavour. 

You will find the full recipe below. I’d love to know if you make it, so don’t forget to share with me in the comments or on social media.

Pisto recipe- Spanish vegetable stew with eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and lots of olive oil

 

MORE HEALTHY VEGETABLE RECIPES

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Spanish pisto vegetable stew with eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and lots of olive oil

Pisto (Spanish Vegetable Stew)

  • Author: Irena Macri
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 60 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Side
  • Method: Stew
  • Cuisine: Spanish
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Beautifully rich and colourful, pisto is a Spanish vegetable stew with eggplant, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers. Learn how to make this recipe at home for a perfect side dish or a main.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 large eggplant, diced
  • 1/2 tsp salt (for eggplant)
  • Good quality olive oil (cold-pressed)
  • 1 large onion, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 long red chilli, diced (or 1/2 teaspoon chili flakes)
  • 1 red bell pepper/capsicum, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper/capsicum, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1.5 cans crushed tomatoes or tomato passata (organic, if possible)
  • 1.5  teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey or coconut sugar (optional, omit for Whole30)
  • 2 small to medium zucchini, peeled and diced

Instructions

  • Dice the eggplant into cubes and sprinkle generously with salt. Leave for 15-20 minutes. This removes some of the bitterness from the eggplant and draws out the moisture so that the vegetable doesn’t need as much oil to fry in.
  • Add 4 tablespoons of olive oil to a large, deep frying pan or a casserole dish and heat over medium heat. Add the onions, chilli and diced peppers. Cook over medium heat for 12-14 minutes, until well softened. Then, add the garlic, tomatoes, salt and sugar or honey and cook for 10 minutes covered with a lid, stirring a couple of times. In the meantime, dice the zucchini and set them aside.
  • Rinse the eggplant under water and pat dry slightly with the kitchen towel. In a separate frying pan, add 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the eggplant and cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring halfway, until slightly browned off.
  • Remove the eggplant and add a little more olive oil. Add the zucchini and cook for 4-5 minutes as well, stirring a couple of times.
  • Finally, add the pre-fried eggplant and zucchini to the pot with the tomato mixture and stir through. Cook together for 25 minutes over medium-low heat, covered with a lid. Stir a few times.
  • Let it sit for 5 minutes after cooking before serving. You may garnish pisto with fresh parsley, basil or coriander if you wish.

Notes

Store leftover pisto in an airtight container for 4-5 days or freeze for up to 2 months. It can be reheated or enjoyed cold the following days.

Keywords: Pisto, Spanish, Eggplant, Zucchini, Stew, Vegetables, Vegan, Vegetarian, Whole30, Paleo

Pisto Recipe
BY IRENA MACRI

About the author: I share tasty recipes, tips, and meal plans to help you get healthier and lose weight. I am a qualified nutrition coach with an Advanced Diploma in Nutrition & Weight Management. More about me here.

PS. Some posts contain affiliate links, which means I receive a small commission for purchases made through these links.

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Comments

25 Comments
  1. Wow, this is gorgeous, just bursting with color and so many of my favorite summer garden veggies. Pinning to make this summer! Thank you!

    1. That’s when I like to make it to! You can definitely do it without the eggplant too and throw in some carrots instead.

  2. I’m always looking for new ways to use eggplant. Adding this to my meal plan!

  3. Ooh, this reminds me of an Italian caponata with a few tweaks. These kind of vegetables stews are so healthy and satisfying. Love the colors and textures!

    1. Absolutely, less heavy on the eggplant and no olives or capers, but the idea is very similar.

  4. I lived in Spain for 10 months and Pisto was my absolute favorite tapa. There wasn’t a single time I didn’t order this amazing (and healthy!) little dish. This was very good, just like the real stuff. I can’t wait to try it cold with bread tomorrow. We served this like stew for dinner with a toasted baguette and pork sausage links. We reduced the salt by 1/2 tsp. I added the honey when I added the zucchini – I don’t think the instructions ever said when to add the salt and sugar. Thanks for the great recipe!

  5. So true, the quality is in not cutting corners. I’ve tried to make pisto several times with little success. Eventually found this recipe and it was lovely. My Spanish husband also approved! Thank you

  6. Holy cow this was phenomenal! If I could rate this a 10 star I would. I did substitute carrots for eggplant. I followed all cooking steps but finished it off in the instapot. The family loved it! I had to use lots of will power just to put it in the fridge.

    1. Thanks, Brent! That’s very kind of you 🙂 Good idea with carrots, too. My partner isn’t a fan of eggplant so sometimes I have to make this dish without. Carrots would add lovely sweetness too.

  7. Hello Irena,

    How many fresh tomatoes will I need if I choose to use them instead of the canned tomatoes? I’d like to try both ways.

    Many thanks for your web site. The paleo programme makes me feel so much lighter and more energetic.

    Regards,
    Jan

  8. I haven’t been to Spain since the early 2000s and wow does this take me back. Thanks for sharing! It was a perfect week for this, as my CSA included some beautiful eggplant and peppers and onions and squash (subbed yellow squash for the zucchini). Going to serve tonight with a rustic loaf of bread for dipping and some roasted garlic too.

  9. Vegetable stews don’t normally elicit much of a response from my taste buds. But this one is AMAZING. Follow the instructions and caramelise the vegetables. I used a lot of passatta as well.

  10. Thank you for this recipe
    I had a crack at it and it resulted in a very tasty feed !
    I will work on this one and get it looking a little closer to yours .

  11. There’s 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of salt and a teaspoon of sugar in the list of ingredients but they’re not mentioned in the instructions?

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