HomeSpanish Salads and Vegetarian DishesPisto


Origin: Castilla La Mancha


Pisto, also known as pisto machengo, is a traditional dish of Spanish cuisine original from La Mancha region. If you take Spanish language courses, you would learn that pisto means something very finely chopped, however it has some different meanings, such as darse el pisto , which refers to the haughty person who shows off, or vaya pisto: equivalent to "what a mess!" when things are very untidy or complicated situations arises.

But in regards to the dish, we have to go back in time to trace its origin. History tells us that in the times of Caliphate a man called Zizyabf rom Baghdad visited Al-Andalus (the Iberian Peninsula territory occupied by the moors in the middle ages) in the year 822 . Zizyab spread the recipe of the dish served at princess Al-Buran and the Abbasi caliph Al-Ma’mün's wedding, son of Harum-al-Rasid, the caliph of the One Thousand and One Nights. The dish was specially created for such illustrious event and it was called al-burmayya, in honor of the princess.

In Spain al-burmayya became "alboronía", which has similar ingredients of modern pisto, except the original had quince which was substituted with tomatoes and red peppers when they were imported from America.

Pisto's influence has transcended the borders of its region and has become a popular and loved dish all over the country and even abroad. A famous French gourmet claims pisto evolved into "piperade basquaise" and "ratatouille"

Other variations are known, such as "tumbet" from Mallorca. In Malta a similar dish is "kapunata", "letscho" in Hungary and "ciambrotta" in the South of Italy

Like many other popular Spanish dishes, there isn't an exact recipe for pisto, as the ingredients varied according to their availability and the taste of the cook. However it should always have tomato and pepper and frequently onion, zucchini and eggplant. However potato is not an ingredient that should be used. It's an oxidant vegetables and pisto is better when the vegetables have settled and mixed well.


Pisto is a great dish because is tasty, very healthy as its a source of vitamins, it takes little time to make and uses common and easy to find ingredients! It's also very versatile as it can be consumed cold or hot and can be either a main dish or accompaniment. Be sure to try it if you visit Castilla La Mancha.

Pisto | Spanish Ratatouille

Ingredients (6 portions):

  • 2 medium sized zucchini
  • 2 green peppers
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 kg of ripe tomatoes or 1 kg of crushed tomatoes
  • 1 onion
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • A pinch of sugar


  • Chop the onion
  • Wash the peppers, open them with a knife and remove the top part and seeds and wash them again to clean their interior
  • Pour some oil in a frying pan and heat at medium temperature. Add the peppers and onion, turn low heat and stir occasionally so they get browned but not burnt. Preferably use a wooden spoon
  • Peel and dice the zucchini, though they may also be sliced very finely.
  • Peel and dice the tomatoes as finely as possible. Add the tomatoes or crushed tomatoes to the pan with the peppers when they're half cooked with a pinch of sugar.
  • In another pan, heat olive oil and add the zucchini, stirring now and then. It's preferable to heat the zucchini on a separate pan as they take less time to be ready
  • The contents of both pans will be ready when the peppers and zucchini's texture is soft and the onion transparent
  • When all the ingredients are ready, mix the two in one pan
  • Leave on the fire at medium heat for a few minutes, so the flavors mix well and it's ready to serve.