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.
Ingredients (6 portions):