Shakshuka

Shakshuka

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Shakshuka. “All mixed up.” A perfect meaning of a North African/Middle Eastern combo of poached eggs, tomatoes, onions, spices, and cheese. That’s because shakshuka is adaptable to just about any ingredients on hand. Think of the recipes I’m sharing almost like blank canvases. If you have tomatoes and eggs, you’ve got the base for an easy and really delicious meal for any time of day.  

Shakshuka is a much-loved specialty for Hanukkah, as well. Make it mild tasting, spicy, or bitingly hot — you choose! 

Get where I’m going here? Let your creative juices flow.  

Yummy with warm pitas or flatbread for dunking into eggs and sauce. 

SHAKSHUKA WITH VEGETABLES, GREENS, AND GOAT CHEESE 

If finishing in the oven, use an ovenproof skillet. No goat cheese? No worries. Just about any cheese works. This is a warm, not-too-spicy-tasting shakshuka. My students love this version.  

Ingredients 

  • ¼ cup or so extra virgin olive oil 
  • 1 real large onion, chopped or thinly sliced 
  • 1 large red or other bell pepper, chopped or thinly sliced 
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced  
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika or to taste 
  • 1¼ teaspoons cumin or to taste 
  • Cayenne to taste (start with 1/8 teaspoon) 
  • 28 oz. diced or whole Italian tomatoes with juice, smooshed fairly small  
  • 2 cups, 8 oz. goat cheese, divided into 1½ and ½ cups 
  • Salt and pepper 
  • 6 eggs, room temperature 
  • Seasonal greens, chopped (optional — a good handful) 
  • Chopped cilantro (or other herbs) and hot sauce for garnish 

Instructions 

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. 
  2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. (I used a 12” sauté.) 
  3. Add onion and bell pepper and cook at a gentle simmer until soft, about 20 minutes.  
  4. Add garlic and spices and cook a few minutes more. 
    Pour tomatoes in, give it a stir, and simmer until they’ve thickened, about 10 minutes or so.  
  5. Gently stir in 1½ cups cheese. Leave some lumps in. Season with pepper.  
  6. Stir in greens. 
  7. Make six indentations with back of a large spoon for the eggs. Crack one egg into each of the indentations.  
  8. Place skillet in oven and bake until eggs are set, six to 10 minutes. Don’t overcook. (If you like yolks runny, check at about five minutes.)  
  9. Sprinkle with cilantro, the rest of the cheese, and hot sauce. 

Tip: Not a fan of finishing shakshuka in oven? Place a lid or foil on pan and finish cooking on top of stove. 

SHAKSHUKA WITH HARISSA, VEGETABLES, AND FETA 

Christopher Kimball came to Cincinnati early this year to promote his cookbook: Milk Street, the New Rules. I chatted with him after a book signing. Chris and I have been telephone “colleagues” for years, and his recipe for shakshuka is so good. It calls for harissa, a spicy red chili paste. Find harissa in the international section. I’ve adapted his recipe only slightly. 

Ingredients 

  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 large red or yellow bell peppers, sliced thin or chopped 
  • 1 medium red onion, thinly sliced 
  • Jalapeno chilies, thinly sliced, to taste (start with 1 large or 2 small) 
  • Salt and pepper to taste 
  • ¾ cup water 
  • Harissa to taste — start with 1/3 cup 
  • 2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved, or equivalent regular tomatoes, chopped 
  • 6 large eggs 
  • 1 heaping cup crumbled feta cheese 
  • Handful parsley, chopped fine 

Instructions 

  1. Heat oil over medium-high heat in 12” nonstick skillet until shimmering.  
  2. Add peppers, onion, and salt and pepper. Cook until onion is golden, about 5 minutes.  
    Stir in ¾ cup water and reduce to medium. 
  3. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until vegetables have softened, about five minutes. 
  4. Stir in harissa and half of the tomatoes.  
  5. Bring to a simmer over medium-high and cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened. The spatula will leave a trail when drawn through. This takes just a few minutes. 
    Scatter the rest of the tomatoes over the sauce. Taste and season. 
  6. Reduce to medium-low, and using the back of a large spoon, make six evenly spaced indentations into the sauce, each about 2” large. 
  7. Crack one egg into each indentation, then season. 
  8. Cover and cook until whites are set but yolks are still runny, rotating the skillet halfway through, about five to eight minutes. 
  9. Remove from heat, sprinkle with feta and parsley, and drizzle with a bit more oil. 

PITA BREAD: SOFT OR CRISP? YOU DECIDE 

Preheat oven to 350-375 degrees F.  

Crispy edges: Brush lightly with olive oil on top. Wrap in foil and heat 10 minutes or so until hot. 

Steaming hot and soft: 

Take a piece of parchment paper large enough to wrap pitas (in stacks of three). Scrunch it up and wet under tap. Shake off excess water and smooth it out. Wrap around pitas all the way to the bottom and tuck in sides.  Heat on baking sheet in oven, 10 minutes, or until hot. 

SIDES TO SERVE WITH SHAKSHUKA 

Hummus, tzatziki, marinated olives 

MARINATED OLIVES 

These need to be done ahead but are good keepers in the refrigerator. 

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound of mixed olives, pitted if possible, 2 cups or so 
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil 
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar or to taste 
  • 2 bay leaves 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced 
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme 
  • ½ teaspoon dried fennel seed, rosemary or favorite herb 
  • Lemon juice to taste 

Instructions 

  1. Put everything except olives and lemon juice in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer, then remove from heat and add lemon juice. Mixture will taste a bit strong. 
  2. Put olives in jar and pour marinade over. Shake. 
  3. Refrigerate an hour or so or up to three weeks. Remove bay leaves and serve. 

ISRAELI-STYLE HUMMUS 

Easy, healthful and so tasty alongside the shakshuka. 

Ingredients 

  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained but not rinsed 
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped, or more to taste 
  • 1 generous teaspoon salt or to taste 
  • Dash cayenne pepper powder or to taste 
  • ¾ to 1 cup tahini (sesame seed paste) 
  • ¾ cumin or to taste 
  • 2-4 tablespoons lemon juice 
  • Water as needed 
  • Paprika, chopped parsley, olive oil for garnish (optional) 

Instructions 

  1. Place chickpeas, garlic, salt, and cayenne in food processor. Process until as smooth as you like.  
  2. Add tahini, cumin, and lemon juice. Process until well blended.  
  3. Add a little water as needed to loosen up the mixture just a bit. You won’t need much so start with a couple of tablespoons. Blend again and place in a bowl, make a swirl with a spoon, and garnish. 

Originally published in the December 2020/January 2021 issue of Backyard Poultry and regularly vetted for accuracy.

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