Shakshuka. I’ve heard about this dish. I’ve read about this dish. I’ve seen others post about this dish. But, I’ve neither tasted nor made it. Today, I had a hankering for tomatoes and eggs so I poured through a few cookbooks – Yotam Ottolenghi, Lorraine Pascale, Jamie Oliver, The Barefoot Contessa; and what I discovered is that there are as many versions of shakshuka as there are chefs and home cooks who prepare it. From what I understand, Tunisian in origin, it is a meal, typically eaten for breakfast but very often enjoyed for brunch, lunch, or dinner. At its base, it is eggs poached in a tomato and red bell pepper sauce. Added for flavour are onions, garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and a sprinkle of fresh coriander or parsley. I added a medium chopped eggplant because I thought it would give the sauce a little more structure. If you’ve got a seasoned cast iron frying pan it will work a treat with this dish.
This combo satisfied my craving and I’m glad I’ve got leftovers for tomorrow! A good hunk of fresh bread to go alongside this will help you sop up the delicious juice from the sauce. Now that I’ve made it, I can see loads of variations – perhaps it would no longer be called shakshuka, but, adding chipotle peppers, a crumble of feta, or a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts, would add some new flavours and textures. A can of chickpeas could also be a nice way to bulk up the sauce with plant-based protein. Whether you prepare the traditional recipe, or variations on that theme, you will produce a one-pot meal that will go over well on your weekend breakfast, brunch, or dinner table. Give it a go! And as always, eat good food xxx
Note to self: don’t forget, and mistakenly wipe your eye after you have handled jalapeños….it smarts!
Ingredients for shakshuka:
- 1-2 Tbsp olive or sunflower oil
- 1 medium yellow cooking onion, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 1 medium eggplant, chopped into 2 x 2 cm pieces
- 1-1/2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp mild chili powder
- 1-1/2 tsp sweet paprika powder
- 2 x 400ml cans crushed tomatoes
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 teaspoon honey
- salt and pepper to taste
- 6 eggs
- a bunch of fresh coriander or flat leaf parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Optional: fresh baby spinach leaves or chopped Swiss chard to lay in the bowl before serving the shakshuka
- Heat the oil in a heavy duty frying pan over a medium flame and add the chopped onion. Sauté for 3-4 minutes and add the garlic, stirring for another minute. Add the chopped red and jalapeño peppers and sauté for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you’re using it, add the eggplant and sauté this for another 5 minutes.
- When the veg have softened, add the cumin, chili powder, and paprika, and continue to cook and stir for about a minute until it looks like the veg have been coated in the spices.
- Now, tip in the two cans of chopped tomatoes, the tomato paste, and the honey, and stir until well combined. Allow this to bubble away for about 10 minutes.
- In the traditional shakshuka recipe, now is the time that you would crack in six eggs, distributing them evenly over top of the bubbling tomato sauce, allowing them to poach under a lid for about 5-7 minutes until the eggs have cooked. I chose to go a different route. I took a small frying pan and gave it a drizzle of olive oil then added a handful of chopped rainbow chard, onto which I ladled out two scoops of the sauce and gave it a stir so the hot sauce would wilt the chard. Over a medium flame, I kept the sauce bubbling away and cracked two eggs over top to poach them in the sauce. A good grind of pepper, a sprinkle of salt, and a dash of fresh coriander, and my shakshuka was ready to enjoy!