Winding down on a friday evening : Pisto
On Friday I was pretty much beat. Totally and utterly tired out by a long week of non-stop deadline meeting.
José was pretty done up too. He decided to go out and buy some pizzas. He´s lately fallen in love with a new Italian takeout store.I decided to stay, too lazy even to chose a pizza topping.
But I didn´t want to sit still, either. What I needed was the kind of mindless, soothing task that would occupy my hands and feet, but hardly my brain. Something involving a good amount of easy chopping, a bit of stirring, which could then be left to cook away, when I´d had enough.
In short, pisto.
Pisto is the perfect do ahead recipe. You make it , it keeps well in the fridge, waiting it´s time for the day when you really don´t want to cook, at all.
It freezes perfectly. Apart from its time-honoured traditional use, with eggs and white rice, I love it on pasta. On pizza. In empanadas. With fish. With meat. On its own, straight out of the jar, standing in front of the open fridge.
What I like about it is that it has a very relaxed rythm. You only have to follow the order of ingredients, and throw them in the pan as soon as they´re chopped. There´s no anxiously waiting for something to be just right, no stressful wild chopping while something may burn. Things will happen while they must, and a minute up and down isn´t a big deal.
Another thing is that there´s one of each, so you don´t get bored. I love chopping veg, but can become restless at the third courgette.
By the time José was back with the pizzas, the pisto was on the simmer phase and I could sit back comfortably and watch Italy get through to the semifinals. Again. Dammit.
1 garlic clove, 1 big onion, 1 courgette, or two small ones, 1 red pepper, 1 kilo tin of tomatoes.
First, chop the garlic and onion. Cover the bottom of the pan with enough oil to coat it comfortably. When it´s hot, add the onion and garlic. While they soften, dice the red pepper. Green is the traditional, but I love the soft, almost creamy sweetness of the red. When it´s diced , add to the pan.
While that softens, cut the courgette into bite sized chunks. I like the courgette to remain recognizable. Add. Stir a little.
Open the tin of tomatoes, and squish them and remove the hard cores. Or grate the equivalent amount of ripe plum tomatoes.
Add them to the pan, with some salt, a couple of heaped tablespoons of sugar, a small dried chilli pepper and some oregano.
Lower the heat, and leave to simmer for forty minutes to an hour. You may need to use a heat diffuser if it starts to stick. When it´s thickened, the courgettes are soft, and the tomato tastes fully cooked, you´re done.
Bear in mind that this recipe is how I make it, and not the classical orthodox one. But it is the most comfortable, and I´ve never had any complaints. Tradition calls for a frying pan, but unless you´re devoted to cleaning tomato stains from the wall and ceiling, I advise a wide saucepan, the sort that´s not very high.
You can add aubergine after the courgette, but then it won´t be pisto but ratatouille.