I have been dying to make Pisto Manchego. I loved the idea of vegetables cooked until macerated, fried egg dropped on top so the yoke drips into the vegetables and sopping up all the savory goodness with a good piece of bread. I got my opportunity when my neighbor dropped off a bag of her homegrown tomatoes. They were the most unbelievable tomatoes I have ever eaten in my life. So sweet and juicy, that I got emotional eating them. I couldn't help but believe she had some secret from back home in Croatia because these tomatoes were on a whole other level and I was determined to get more of them.
A week later, returning home from work, her husband and son were in front of their house and I approached them and went....on and on...about her tomatoes, to the point that I probably freaked them out or they just thought I was a freak. I knew when they started to edge away from me, make less eye contact and act busy, that I had probably gone too far. I must have sounded like a crack fiend. I even hinted that if their mother ever wanted to give me tomatoes again, I would not object. Who does that? Well....apparently, I do.
I did run into her several days later. She was in her garden placing tomatoes in her basket and I screamed from across the street that "I had never eaten tomatoes like hers before" and asked her what her secret was. She said "nothing special".....but I say.......MAGIC. I kept looking in her face and down at her basket....looking at her face, down at her basket...up and down. I think she got the hint because she offered her basket of tomatoes to me. I should have said, "No, keep your tomatoes"or "No, I really shouldn't", but seeing how it gave her pleasure to be so generous, I took them.
I made this dish again last night, but cooked the vegetables a little longer. I like a mushy texture and I think the flavors blend better when you do this. I also love that there are so many variations to this dish. You can add eggplant, squash or carrots. You can use as an appetizer on top of bread, a side dish or like I did, with fried egg on top. I want to try the version from On The Road Again with Mario Batali and Gwyneth Paltow, in which you roast the vegetables and then push through a food mill.....except, I don't have a food mill.
I realize this is pretty late in the season to be blogging about tomatoes, so if you have no access to good quality tomatoes, then use a can of whole, peeled tomatoes. Just make sure to drain them in a colander, crush them into the pan and if you have any liquid in the pan when the dish is almost ready, use medium high to high heat, stirring constantly to evaporate the juice.
1/3 cup olive oil
1 large onion (finely chop)
4 cloves of garlic (finely chop)
1 large red pepper (seeded, remove any white ribbing and finely chop)
1 large green pepper (seeded, remove any white ribbing and finely chop)
2 large, ripe tomatoes ( blanch to remove skin and crush into pan)
2 tbs Balsamic Vinegar
2 tbs Balsamic Vinegar
Kosher Salt and cracked pepper
2 fried eggs
Grilled or toasted bread (optional)
Using a large saute pan, add olive oil to medium heat, add onions and garlic stirring for about 3 minutes. If you find that the onions are browning too fast, lower the heat. Add the peppers and cook for another 5 minutes. Add tomato, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper and cook until vegetables are very tender.
In another pan, add 1 tbsp of oil or butter to frying pan and fry egg. You can also decide to cook the egg right in the cooked Pisto mixture, just create a space in the vegetables and crack and egg into this space. Cover and cook until done.