Pisto Manchego (Summer Vegetable Stew)


      o 2 large eggplants (aubergines), about 1 1/2 lb / 750 g
      o Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
      o 3/4 cup / 6 fl oz /180 ml olive oil (I use about half this}
      o 2 large yellow onion, chopped
      o 1 lb / 450 g bell peppers (capsicums), a mixture of red and green, seeded and chopped
      o 1/2 cup / 2 1/2 oz / 75 g all-purpose (plain) flour
      o 2 lb / 900 g tomatoes , peeled seeded and diced {I don't bother to peel and seed them, and it comes out fine)
      o 1 t dried oregano
      o 2 T pine nuts, toasted 

Peel the eggplants and cut into 1 1/2 inch / 4 cm pieces. Place in a colander, sprinkling salt between the layers, and let drain for 1 hour.

In a large frying pan {It’d better be really big - I use a big dutch oven} over medium heat, warm 1/4 cup / 2 fl oz / 60 ml olive oil {I only use about a tablespoon}. Add the onions and saute till tender, 8-10 minutes. Add the peppers and saute till softened, about 5 minutes longer.

Meanwhile, rinse the eggplant pieces and pat dry. Place the flour in a shallow bowl. In another large frying pan over high heat, warm the remaining olive oil {I only add about 1/4 cup here, then another couple of tablespoons for the second batch}. Dip the eggplant in the flour, tapping off the excess. In batches, add to the hot oil and fry, turning as needed, until golden, 5-8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate.

When all the eggplant pieces have been fried, add them to the onion-pepper mixture along with the tomatoes, oregano, salt, and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until all the flavors are well blended and the tomatoes have broken down into a saucelike consistency, about 20 minutes.

Spoon into a bowl and garnish with the pine nuts. Serve warm or at room temperature.