Last year before one of the Celebrity Series performances we ate at Taberna de Haro in Brookline. It’s a very nice Spanish tapas restaurant. One of the dishes we had that evening was Pisto Manchego – which is lovely Spanish comfort food similar to the French ratatouille.
Since then I’ve been trying to come up with my own, and I think the one I made today is a winner. It’s based on a Food & Wine recipe from 2008, but with a few variations. One of the nice things about this meal is that between Wilsons and my garden I think 90% of the ingredients were local.
1 largish eggplant (about a lb or so)
1 medium onion, whole and unpeeled (sweet vidalia or red)
2 peppers (I used one green and one red)
2-3 chiles (I used a poblano and 2 fresh cayenne out of the garden)
2 lbs fresh ripe tomatoes, cored (that was about 4 of the ones I had)
10 cloves garlic (yes, 10 I didn’t mistype)
eggs (1 or 2 per person)
1-2 Tbsp fresh oregano
1/2 tsp cumin
salt & pepper
Get all the vegetables prepped, and take them out to your grill on a large rimmed baking sheet. Heat up the grill. Prick the eggplant all over to allow steam to escape, then put the eggplant and onion on the grill over medium high heat turning to get all sides. Let the outer skin of the eggplant and the onion start to char on the outside. Depending on the size of your grill you may need to do this part in stages; if you have a large grill surface you can start the other veggies sooner.
As the vegetables get charred take them off the grill and put them back on the large rimmed backing sheet when they’re done – you want this to catch any yummy juices that start leaking out.
Grill the peppers and chilies over medium high heat until the skins are mostly charred on the outside. Grill the tomatoes and zucchini as well turning frequently. Toss the garlic in olive oil and then roast it in a shallow pan, or in foil over a slightly cooler part of the grill.
Once all your veggies are grilled, take the tray back to the kitchen where you’ll finish preparing the dish.
Basically you’re going to peel the charred skins off everything, chop it up and then add it to a skillet. Here’s the order:
First peel the charred skin off the eggplant and remove any seeds, then chop into 1 inch chunks. Peel the charred skin off the onion and slice it up. Add the eggplant and onions to a medium (or low) skillet that has some olive oil in it. Let those start sautéing while you work on the other veggies – next the peppers and chilies.
Over the baking tin, peel the skins off the peppers and chilies; take out the seeds and stem; then chop. Coarsely for the peppers, more finely for the chilies. At this point you can also coarsely chop the roasted garlic. Add these to the skillet.
Peel the charred skins off the zucchini, and the chop into 3/4 inch dice. Add to the skillet.
Finally peel and seed the tomatoes (over the baking tin to catch the juices). Coarsely chop the tomatoes and add to the skillet. Take any accumulated juices in the baking tin and strain them into the skillet. You can squeeze the remaining skins and seeds if you want to get every last bit of flavor.
Cook everything for a few minutes so that it’s all nice and tender. Add the chopped fresh oregano, and cumin, along with salt and pepper to taste. I considered adding a little bit of smoked paprika at this point, but when I tasted it everything seemed to be in balance so I didn’t.
The F&W recipe serves this with pork chops. It seems to be more traditional to serve it with eggs. You can simply make indentations in the pisto mixture and crack the eggs into the indents and cover to cook them. I wanted a little more control over cooking the eggs so I fried them separately in some bacon drippings I’d saved, and then served them over the top.
Serve with a nice crusty bread, and a salad. Our salad was golden beets with creamy goat cheese and baby greens from the garden in a balsamic dressing.