Simmer

Pisto Manchego With Eggs

May 13, 2022
5 Stars
Photo by Julia Gartland. Food Stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis
  • Prep time 10 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

I first came across this dish at the elementary school in Madrid, where I taught English, and where they served it for lunch. Filing into the cafeteria, some of the students would complain, “Que no me gusta el pisto!” (I don’t like pisto!), but I always looked forward to pisto day. Eventually, I learned to make the dish myself.

Ubiquitous throughout Spain, “pisto” is a stewy dish similar to French ratatouille or Israeli shakshuka. The essential ingredients are tomatoes, onions, and peppers. While the Manchego ("Manchego" = from La Mancha, from where the eponymous sheep's milk cheese also hails!) version, with zucchini and a pièce-de-résistance poached or fried egg, is arguably the most popular, each region has a distinct take on pisto. In the sunny southwest, Andalusians throw in eggplant, as do their neighbors to the east, in Murcia. In Rioja, a cook might finish her pisto by beating a few eggs directly into the mixture at the end. The Bilbaínos up north double the eggs, and it skews more toward a veggie-heavy scramble.

I have my own version that I like to describe as a summer garden in a bowl—even better when it's topped with an egg.
Caitlin Raux Gunther

Test Kitchen Notes

Featured in: Summer Calls for Pisto Manchego—With a Fried Egg on Top.

Like French ratatouille, Italian caponata, Greek briam, Turkish imam bayildi—let's face it, we could go on forever here—Spanish pisto is a love letter to summer vegetables. It's also a highly delicious and hearty way to enjoy this fresh bounty in a stick-to-your-ribs, belly-warming way still befitting of the warm weather.

As mentioned in the headnote above, the ingredients for this dish can vary widely based on the region where the cook resides. All of this is to say, play around here based on what you have on hand. While tomatoes, peppers, and onions are absolutely essential, you could stick in thick cubes of eggplant, zucchini (or any kind of thin-skinned summer squash), ribbons of greens like chard or kale, alliums like leeks or scallions, meaty cremini mushrooms, crisp green beans, sweet corn, even small cubes of potatoes or yams—the sky (well, garden) is really the limit.

Just make sure to add the vegetables to the pan ahead of the tomatoes and based on their cook time; you can adjust the water in the pan to allow for maximum tenderness and stewy-ness. You want every bite of the pisto to be silky and soft, and coated with the unctuous runny yolks of your fried eggs.

Last, though the sherry vinegar is listed as optional, acid of some kind is pretty essential here to lift and brighten the sweetness and comforting vibes of this dish. If you don't have sherry vinegar, red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, or even a choice squeeze of lemon juice should absolutely do the trick. Don't be shy with it! —The Editors

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
  • 2 white onions, sliced thin
  • 1 pinch sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 zucchini or yellow squash (or one of each), peeled and chopped
  • 3 Italian peppers (or 2 bell peppers), cored and chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 6 medium tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 1 splash sherry vinegar (optional)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 4 eggs
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. In a large saucepan over high-medium heat, add a generous coating of olive oil. Once oil is hot, add onions, salt and continually stir.
  2. When onions are golden and some are a little singed, add squash and a splash more olive oil. Throw in a few more pinches of salt.
  3. Once the squash cooks down, add peppers and another splash of olive oil. Cook for a few minutes then add the garlic. If the mixture is getting dry, add another touch of olive oil. Keep stirring continually. Salt to taste—it should be a little extra salty at this point because the tomatoes (coming next) will absorb a good deal of it.
  4. By now, your vegetables should be soft and coming together. Add the chopped tomatoes, which will contribute some much-needed moisture.
  5. Cook tomatoes down until they seem to have released all of their water. Stir in a splash of sherry vinegar. After a couple of minutes, pour in a half cup of water, stir and lower heat, letting the ingredients simmer together for at least 10 minutes (feel free to go lower and slower). Salt (again! I know!) to taste.
  6. In a medium saucepan, add a healthy glug of olive oil. Once oil is hot, crack four eggs into the pan and fry to preferred doneness.
  7. Serve pisto with a fried egg for each person and a baguette (or any such delicious bread on hand).

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Basil and Roses
    Basil and Roses
  • Mali
    Mali
  • Aran Goyoaga
    Aran Goyoaga
  • Nora
    Nora
  • Caitlin Raux Gunther
    Caitlin Raux Gunther
Caitlin is a Paris-based writer. She wrote about food and wine while living in Madrid after college, and had a brief career as a lawyer before moving back to Spain to work in restaurants and attend culinary courses at the Basque Culinary Center in San Sebastian. She has worked or staged at Mina, Nerua and Septime. Caitlin is currently working on her first memoir about working in Michelin-starred restaurants in Bilbao. Follow her on Insta at @caitlinrauxgunther

17 Reviews

Darian August 31, 2020
My family loved it! I added in a little bit of cilantro, followed the Rioja method of stirring in scrambled eggs, and added some Manchego cheese. It was like ratatouille met migas - delicious! Served with baguette.
 
Caitlin R. September 1, 2020
Migas!!! Next on my list of Spanish recipes to master.
 
Darian September 1, 2020
I can't vouch for authenticity, but we love this recipe on Food52: https://food52.com/recipes/70191-poblano-and-smoked-cheddar-migas. I use tortilla chips instead of corn tortilla strips just because I always have them in the pantry.
 
Helen M. August 26, 2020
This was quick and easy and delicious. I made it with yellow pepper and baby zucchini because that's what I had. I dumped some baby tomatoes that needed eating and tinned tomatoes (southern hemisphere, wrong season) instead of fresh. My housemates had fried eggs, and I had fried tofu on top of mine, with thickly sliced Jim Lahey bread. We were very happy!
 
Caitlin R. August 26, 2020
Happy to hear it! Wish I had some of Lahey's bread right now.
 
Lee August 24, 2020
Made this for tonight’s dinner and it taste great, everything from my garden! I even had a small eggplant that I peeled and added. Of course being from New Mexico, I just had to add a couple of roasted green chili’s, ( I think it’s the law here you have to put green chili’s in everything , lol)
Serving it with grilled sea bass.
 
Karen B. August 23, 2020
So...Is there no Manchego cheese in this? If you can put it in, when? Over the eggs?
 
Caitlin R. August 24, 2020
Nope! This version of the recipe happens to come from the same region of Spain as the beloved cheese, La Mancha. If you add, I'd say at the very end.
 
Lee August 23, 2020
Made this for tonight’s dinner and it taste great, everything from my garden. I even had a small eggplant that I peeled and added. Of course being from New Mexico, I just had to add a couple of roasted green chili’s, ( I think it’s the law here you have to put green chili’s in everything , lol)
Serving it with grilled sea bass.
 
Katfact August 23, 2020
This is fantastic. Loved it
 
Basil A. August 23, 2020
Love the notes on the history of this dish and simplicity of the recipe, can't wait to give it a try! On a side note, what is the gorgeous white pan with the wooden handle the pisto is photographed/shown in? Is it Dansk and available in your shop?
 
Mali August 23, 2020
Anything with onion, tomatoes and an egg on top, has my vote. Loved this piece. And looking forward to making this for a lazy Sunday breakfast next weekend.
 
Aran G. August 16, 2020
I’m from Spain and this is exactly what we eat in the summer. Perfect.
 
Caitlin R. August 17, 2020
Best compliment! Que aproveche!
 
Nora August 16, 2020
I made this yesterday with vegetables from our garden. Delicious, and so easy. I made some croutons toasted with olive oil to top it. I see this as a year-round quick supper with our frozen tomatoes and grocery store zucchini.
 
Caitlin R. August 17, 2020
Fantastic! Canned tomatoes work in a pinch, too. Enjoy!
 
Nora August 17, 2020
We have an ample tomato crop this year, freezing lots of Romas. I can see this with a generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes being a great January meal, as well as one I'll repeat as long as the garden lasts this fall. In NC,, it can last quite a while.