Pisto Manchego is an entirely vegetarian dish in a country whose gastronomical fame is not in its vegetarian dishes.  Very similar to the more-famous French ratatouille, it consists of vegetables fried in olive oil, but unlike its French counterpart, comes quite often served with a fried egg on top.

“Manchego” denotes the region where it comes from – La Mancha – though today it can be found all throughout Spain.  Although originally cooked by peasants who worked with the vegetables available to them, it has become a national dish.   It most often consists of bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, zucchini, and sometimes – but less traditionally — eggplant.  Of course this is all fried in olive oil, the base of the Spanish diet.  The secret is to fry the ingredients in stages: first the onion, then the peppers, then the zucchini, and finally the tomatoes.

recipe for 6, adapted from Gourmet magazine:

1/3 cup olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
4 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped
3 zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons red-wine (or sherry) vinegar
6 eggs fried in olive oil

In a large saucepan cook the onions in the oil over moderately low heat, stirring, until the onions are softened, then add the bell peppers, again stirring until all softened.  Add the garlic, and cook the mixture, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add the zucchini, then the tomatoes, the salt, the black pepper, and the sugar and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes. The sugar helps to cut the acidity of the tomatoes.  Stir the vinegar into the tomato mixture, transfer the pisto to a serving bowl, and arrange the fried eggs on top – one egg for each person.

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