I created this dish on Food Network's The Julia Child Challenge as a component of the meal that changed my life.
There are those meals that just stay in your mind. Those meals that you can’t stop thinking about long after you’ve experienced them. The ones you know you need a tutorial on so you can create a recipe of your own, respectfully, for whenever the craving and desire to transport back to that food memory strikes. This Pisto recipe was born out of one of those magical food moments.
I experienced an ongoing epiphany throughout the entirety of my first trip to Spain. It was just one bite after another of life changing foods and flavors developed through the art of bringing together just a few fresh, quality ingredients to develop crazy delicious meals. I prepared this Pisto on Food Network’s The Julia Child Challenge as a component of the meal that changed my life. I couldn’t sleep the night I first tried Pisto at dinner. It was just so delicious and gorgeous that I was left staring at the ceiling thinking about it, wondering where I could eat it next, how it's made, and my ideas for recreating it when we returned home.
As someone who leans heavily into vegetables when cooking and creating recipes, the thing that impacted me so greatly as a cook in Spain was the incredible way meals were so heavily centered around a deeply rooted respect and love for vegetables - the freshest, plumpest, most flavorful and vibrant vegetables I’d ever tasted in my life. They'd just shine in their own spotlight on the plate everywhere we went. I felt in my element, and at the same time, so inspired to learn and grow as a home chef.
I was determined to learn the magic behind this traditional Spanish dish so I could bring it home with me as a culinary keepsake, develop a recipe with respect and knowledge about the origin of the dish, and then create my own family food memories around it.
When people ask me what Pisto is, I tell them that the easiest way to describe it is to imagine that ratatouille and shakshuka made a glorious food baby. Vegetables are cooked low and slow in olive oil until rich and juicy, and eggs are cooked into the dish in the last few minutes. I add some pancetta to my version for an added porky flavor, although traditionally there is no meat included and you can forgo this ingredient to make a vegetarian version (which is closer to the traditional). This is a one pan meal, but it demands some time. These flavors need respect and time to develop and come together as the vegetables cook down. The final result will be a comforting, hearty, insanely flavorful vegetable stew with jammy eggs warmly tucked in throughout. I love to garnish with a bright pop of fresh parsley. Serve this Pisto with this Pan con Tomate and these Sautéed Prawns, also components of the meal that changed my life, as seen on The Julia Child Challenge.
If you're looking for the perfect pan for preparing this dish, I love to use my Great Jones Deep Cut. It's so gorgeous that I typically place it over a beautiful kitchen towel and serve it right out of the pan with a set of large brass serving spoons. If you're having a bigger group and doubling the recipe, make and serve this dish in your Dutchess - she is, after all, born to shine at the center of the table.
If you cook this Pisto to enjoy with your loved ones, be sure to tag @threebirdsonestove so I can see how you're coming together to connect over this delicious, comforting vegetable dish.
Watch The Julia Child Challenge, Mondays at 9PM EST, on Food Network and Discovery Plus!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30-35 minutes
Yield: 6-8 Servings
¼ cup diced prosciutto or pancetta (omit for vegetarian version)
Extra virgin olive oil for sautéing
4 shallots, diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 zucchini, cut into cubes
1 medium sized eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 yellow bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
1 orange bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced
7 ripe campari or plum tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tablespoons chopped parsley, plus more for garnishing
⅔ cup vegetable stock, plus more on hand just in case
6-8 eggs (enough for one egg per person dining)
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Sauté the prosciutto in a non-stick skillet until golden and crispy, 7-8 minutes. Place aside on a paper towel lined surface.
In the same pan, heat about 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add shallots and sauté for 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and sauté for another minute or so. Season with salt and pepper.
Add zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper and a little more olive oil (about a teaspoon) if necessary. Continue cooking uncovered for about 8-10 minutes. The vegetables should be soft and cooked down, but still have a little bite.
Add tomatoes, parsley, and vegetable stock. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Continue to cook uncovered for about 5 minutes, until tomatoes have softened a bit. If the vegetables are absorbing the stock quickly, incorporate 1-2 tablespoons more at a time until tomatoes are cooked down.
Reduce to low heat. Make an indentation for each egg throughout the pan. Crack and egg into each indentation, season with salt and pepper, and cover to cook for 6-8 minutes. The egg whites should be firm and bright white and the yolks should still be soft.
Remove from heat, sprinkle with prosciutto or pancetta. Garnish with parsley. Serve immediately.