Shakshuka

Shakshuka

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

Directions:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!  

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