The cuisine of the Iberian peninsula was heavily influenced throughout history by its many conquerors. This dish, a popular one throughout Spain, was no doubt introduced to the country by the Moors. The key to its texture and flavors is to cook each vegetable slowly and individually. Your patience will be well rewarded!
For the tomato sauce:
- 2 to 3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 6 plum tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and crushed by hand
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
For the vegetables:
- 1 large Spanish onion, peeled and diced (for about 2 cups)
- 2 red bell peppers, stemmed and diced (for about 2 cups)
- 1 Cubanelle or Anaheim pepper, stemmed and diced
- 2 medium zucchini squash, stemmed and diced
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided, plus extra for serving
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tablespoons grated Manchego cheese, for serving
Make the tomato sauce: Heat a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and stir-fry the garlic. Add the tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low (your stovetop’s minimum setting) and cook about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon.
Make the vegetable mixture: Heat a second heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat
and, when hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil and stir in the onion. Cook the onion until it becomes translucent and golden. (Do not let the onion brown.) Transfer to a bowl.
Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to the pot and stir in the peppers. Cook over low heat, stirring from time to time. Add the peppers to the onions. Cook the zucchini the same way as the peppers. Leave in the pan. Return the onions and peppers to the pan with the zucchini; add the tomato sauce. Turn the heat to very low. Cook for 45 minutes, seasoning to taste with the salt, black pepper, and sugar.
Turn off the heat and let the stew rest for several hours to allow the flavors to develop. Reheat gently, then transfer to warmed shallow bowls. Top each serving with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkling of cheese.
Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from food52.com