A VEGETARIAN DREAM
Whether you love vegetables or hate them, there is no doubt that some of the most favourable dishes are vegetarian. Also, who can resist the colours of fresh produce? I admit I cannot. Bags of produce later I find myself with more than I can consume and letting it go to waste is not an option. The plus side is that making a pisto with all these veggies freezes well and has a multitude of uses.
So what is pisto? Pisto is a Spanish dish similar to French ratatouille. There really isn’t much of a different and, like ratatouille, the ingredients can vary as well as the quantities of the ingredients. You can’t really go wrong. The base of a pisto is tomato, followed by onions, peppers, zucchini and/or eggplant. It take several hours to cook so making a large batch is worth while. The concentration of flavours is incredible.
Pisto is so versatile that you can use it all year long:
*substitute for pizza sauce
*use as a pasta sauce
*serve cold on a crostini
*delicious over a fried egg or a scramble
*a base for tomato rice
*blend and use as a soup base
*a topping for meat
Besides the time, all that is required is a bit of prep work. As I mentioned earlier, the ingredients and quantities can be adapted to suit your taste but here is my recipe that works very well. You will need 8 ripe tomatoes, 4 peppers (I try to get a variety of colours so it looks nicer), 2 medium onions, 1 zucchini (I love yellow zucchini if it is in season), a large bunch of fresh basil, and 6-8 cloves of garlic, minced.
Wash and cut all your vegetables into pieces that you will enjoy eating. I tend to cut them somewhere between diced and large chunks because they shrink down a bit when they are cooked. Once everything is set, it is a matter of having patience and cooking each section down.
In a large pot, add some olive oil and onions. When they start to caramelize, add the tomatoes, some salt, pepper and a Tbsp of paprika. If you like spice, use hot paprika.
Once the tomatoes break down and you notice they sauce is starting to thicken and most of the liquid has evaporated (about 20 minutes simmering and stirring occasionally) you can add the rest of the vegetables (peppers and zucchini).
Allow this to break down the same way as the tomatoes, making sure to give it an additional stir. This process will also take about 20 minutes. You will notice the vegetables are still firm. You can now put a lid on the pot and let it simmer for another 30 minutes. Be sure to give it a stir part way through.
The final step is to add the garlic and fresh basil. I like to add this to the end because I feel like the flavours get lost if the garlic and basil cook too long. Once these final ingredients are added I let the pisto cook for another 20 minutes uncovered. Add any salt to taste if needed.
Once it has cooled down a bit you can fill three 500 mL mason jars and freeze them for later use. Be sure to leave a bit of space in the jar if you are freezing them.
8 tomatoes (large dice)
4 bell peppers (large dice)
2 medium onions (large dice)
1 small zucchini (large dice)
1/8 C olive oil
1 Tbsp paprika
salt and pepper
6 large garlic cloves (minced)
1 C fresh basil (coarsely chopped)
1. In a large pot add oil and onions.
2. Cook over medium heat until onions start to brown (approx. 1o minutes).
3. Add paprika, salt and pepper.
4. Stir in tomatoes until they break down a bit (approx. 20 minutes).
5. Add peppers and zucchini.
6. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Reduce heat to simmer, cover and let cook for 30 minutes.
8. Mix in garlic and basil.
9. Cook uncovered for another 20 minutes stirring occasionally.
10. Consistency should be thick and sauce-like.
11. Season with more salt if needed.
12. This fills 3 small mason jars which you can freeze once it has cooled.
Calories 253 per jar
Protein 5.3 g per jar