Before my senior year of college, I studied abroad in Spain for four months. I had done a lot of research prior to leaving, but I truly wasn’t expecting everything Southern Spain had to offer. I lived in Sevilla, which is the capital of Andalucia. I ate my way through Spanish cuisine (and gained thirty pounds in the process), eating everything from salmorejo, to espinacas con garbanzo, to jamon iberico by the pound.
When I was there, I stayed with a host family who welcomed me with open arms. My host dad, Marcos, was the most amazing cook. They had a tiny kitchen, but the food had the biggest and boldest flavor you could imagine. I still think about his cooking to this day, almost 3 and a half years after I left. This recipe is based on something he made frequently called pisto.
It’s more commonly known in the United States as ratatouille. However, I somewhat combine the two ideas to create my own version. This recipe may seem daunting at first because of the long cook time, but a majority of that time is inactive and you can focus on other things.
For the puree version of the recipe, you can cut the vegetables somewhat haphazardly because they’ll eventually be pureed. Just ensure that the vegetables are small enough that they cook all the way through to achieve a smooth, lump-free consistency.
One of the most important things to ensure is that you let the eggplant rest. It’s so important to peel and chop the eggplant and then let it sit in a colander with salt. This will help the eggplant to release some of its bitterness when you’re cooking it.
When testing a puree, make sure you use the spoon tilt test. If you’re new to making purees and you’re a little uncertain about the process, you can find a more detailed description here.
When I eat this, I finish it with a soft baked egg, manchego cheese, and parsley. There’s absolutely no reason you couldn’t add this into your finished puree! The egg yolk would give a level of velvety-ness, and the manchego would give a nice saltiness to finish. If you’re vegan, feel free to leave it out! The finished recipe doesn’t call for it, but just know that it’s a wonderful option. 🙂
I hope you eat this pisto/ratatouille and pretend you’re basking in the sweltering, Southern Spain heat. I hope you feel comforted and wholesome, just like I do every time I eat this recipe.
Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts!
Spanish-Inspired Ratatouille Puree
- immersion blender
- 2 medium eggplants chopped
- 3 bell peppers either red, orange, or yellow (or a combination), chopped
- 2 medium zucchini chopped
- 1 large onion diced
- 6 cloves garlic minced
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 48 ounces canned whole tomatoes
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tbsp dried
- 4 tbsp basil chiffonade
- 3 tbsp parsley chopped
- Olive oil for sauteing vegetables
- Peel and chop eggplant and place in a colander in the sink. Season generously with salt and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, chop the peppers, zucchini, and onion into 1.5 cm pieces. Mince garlic and set aside.
- Heat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil.
- Use a paper towel to remove excess liquid from the eggplant. Add to dutch oven with the olive oil. Season with pepper.
- Cook eggplant until lightly browned and softened. Remove eggplant from dutch oven and set aside.
- Add more olive oil to the dutch oven. Then add peppers, zucchini, and onion. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, ~7 minutes. Remove from dutch oven and set aside.
- Add olive oil to dutch oven again. Add tomato paste and garlic, cook until the color of tomato paste has darkened and garlic is beginning to brown.
- Add tomatoes and herbs and bring to a boil. Crush tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat and then add the eggplant, peppers, zucchini, and onion. Cover and let simmer for ~1 hour until almost all liquid has evaporated.
- Use an immersion blender to puree vegetables into a smooth, lump-free consistency.