Happiest holidays to you. I hope you are cozy and warm and full of good food and cheer. I hope there is also wine/beer/your favorite beverage in hand many times between now and new years, and perhaps even after. Tis the season!I hope lots of delicious food finds a way into your belly. If you happen to want to make your belly happy, might I suggest some shakshuka for breakfast/brunch/dinner? Simple, yet so flavorful and just a little naughty with the runny egg yolks, crusy pieces of bread/pita, and scattering of salty feta (or swoosh of greek yogurt or some chevre). Oh and some parsley or really any greenery (thyme! sage! cilantro!) for color and freshness at the end. Perfect to make ahead (the sauce that is), and then enjoy a few days at a time. Easy for entertaining (either yourself or others around the holiday). Make one egg, two, three...five or six. The sauce is easily doubled, just be sure to use a big enough pan to hold the goodness and cradle the eggs when cooking to just-set-softness. And yes, I know that it is tomato season, but no bother: canned italian-style plum or San Marzano tomatoes work the best here. And yes, as for the red bell pepper, you can find the best looking ones in the produce area. If you are so inclined, you can roast them to concentrate their flavor, but I find that between the olive oil, smokey paprika and flavorful cumin, even the sub-par bell peppers can make magic here.
Traditionally served with a soft, pia-ish bread, I love shakshuka with pretty much any toasty, bready carb. Tartine sourdough! Lavash! Naan! English Muffins! We're going around the culinary globe here...just be sure you have some sort of toasty carb to dip into the rich sauce and gooey egg.Cheers to you, and all your delicious adventures. I hope your season is merry, bright, and filling.
Note: guides for this shakshuka were Yotam's found here, Deb's found here, and finally my revelation about finishing the eggs in the oven to perfect softeness is from the New York Times. So, this is "a" shakshuka recipe, as I expect you to make it your own, too. Last note: I have used Oaktown Spice Shop's harissa powder in shakshuka and I love it; but never fear, you do not need harissa for this recipe-it will be just as delicious without.
Shakshuka // makes enough sauce for 2 hearty servings of two to three eggs each, or 4 smaller portions with 1 egg each; overall, this makes enough to cook 4 to 6 eggs depending on how saucy you'd like your bowl of shakshuka //
- 1 28 oz can italian-style (san marzano) whole peeled plum tomatoes, cut directly in the can with a pair of kitchen hears
- 1 large onion, sweet or red, diced medium-small
- 3 TB olive oil
- 1 large or 2 smaller sweet red peppers (I use red bell but any sweet variety work), cut into medium pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tsp tomato paste (optional, but adds a round sweetness if your tomatoes are a bit acidic; add a pinch of sugar instead if needed)
- 2 heaped tsp paprika, using either or both sweet or smoked
- 1 heaped tsp cumin
- 1 heaped tsp harissa powder or harissa paste (use caution if spicy, and add to taste!)
- pinch hot chili flakes or cayenne pepper (optional)
- sea salt and black pepper to taste
- 4-6 eggs
- Feta cheese, fresh chopped parsely/cilantro/thyme
- Warm and crusty bread, pita, etc. of choice
1. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil on medium heat. Add the onion and red pepper, and cook on medium heat until extremely soft and the onion is light brown. This will take 10-15 minutes.
2. Add the garlic, and cook for a few minutes until the garlic aroma mellows. Add the paprika, cumin, harissa and tomato paste. Cook for a minute, then add the tomatoes. Scrape any cooked bits on the bottom of the pan off and into the suace. Season with salt and pepper, then simmer until the sauce is thick enough to hold its shape when you make a small indent with a spoon (about 10-15 minutes on medium heat)*.
3. Preheat oven to 375F. Once pre-heated, make wells in the hot sauce with a spoon, and gently crack the eggs into a well. Carefully transfer into the hot oven, and cook for 10-15 minutes until the eggs are just set. You want to whites to be set, but the yolks to be runny.
4. Serve immediately, sprinkling bowls generously with herbs and feta. Enjoy with warm, crust bread or pita.
*this would be the point at which you could stop, and save the sauce for the next day. You could even freeze batches of the sauce. Re-heat in a pan, and proceed with recipe.
So quick, so comforting, so flavorful.