In preparation for my move to New York, I’ve been trying to clean out my pantry and freezer. In the past week I’ve made several unusual concoctions to use up as much stuff as possible, none of which constitute a real meal. These experiments include numerous variations of chia pudding (what else do you do with tons of chia seeds?), and kind of strange, definitely not blog-worthy, chocolate oatmeal “muffins.”
But luckily, I figured out today that I also had the ingredients to make one of my favorite quick dishes, called shakshuka.
I was first inspired to try shakshuka a couple months ago, after seeing a recipe by David Lebovitz, one my favorite bloggers. I love making shakshuka because it can be made in one dish (which is critical when you don’t have a working dishwasher), is equally delicious for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, and is healthy and vegetarian. But best of all, it is delicious!
This spicy North African dish comes in many varieties, but at its most basic, shakshuka is a spiced sauce of tomatoes with poached eggs, often with sauteed onions or greens. I’ve made it with arugula, kale, and spinach, and even added meatballs once when I was worried about feeding a larger group.
Below is my recipe, which takes a lot of inspiration from David Lebovitz’s recipe mentioned above.
This recipe holds up well with experimentation. Several recipes call for the addition of bell pepper (typically only one, red), a chile pepper or two, and feta cheese. I didn’t have any feta on hand this time around. But if you want to use feta, add about 1 cup of crumbled or small cubes of feta right before you crack the eggs into the sauce.
I also like my shakshuka a little more veggie heavy, so I add more greens than most recipes call for. Feel free to scale back.
The most important thing with this dish is not to rush the cooking of the sauce. The tomatoes need time to break down and absorb the flavors of all the spices, and the water needs a chance to evaporate so that the sauce thickens.
- 2 tablespoons good olive oil
- 1 medium red onion, chopped
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin, or 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon of Zorab’s Olive Oil spice blend. Za’atar would also work
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 – 1 teaspoon harissa, depending on how spicy you like it (chile peppers can work as a substitute, or addition)
- 28 ounces diced tomatoes
- 1 – 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 1/2 teaspoon sugar or honey
- 10 ounces frozen spinach or 2 cups fresh greens (you can use swiss chard, kale, etc.)
- 4-6 eggs
Heat the olive oil in a medium large sauce pan or large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. When hot, saute the red onion for about 5 minutes, until tender. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes. Add all of the spices except the harissa and cook, stirring frequently, for about a minute.
Reduce the heat to medium and add the harissa, tomatoes, tomato paste, and sugar. When the tomatoes have reached a simmer, reduce the heat to medium low and gently simmer for about 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally. The water should be starting to evaporate and the sauce should start to thicken. Add the greens and simmer for about another 5 minutes. The tomatoes and greens should be more “stew-y” rather than “sauce-y.”
Note: if you are using frozen spinach, microwave the spinach until thawed (about 1 minute if loose chopped) and then wring out excess water.
If you want to use feta, this is the point at which you would add the crumbles.
Using the back of a large spoon or spatula, make wells in the tomato mixture for each of your eggs. Crack one egg into each well. Simmer eggs for about 3 minutes, then cover and continue to cook until the eggs are set to your liking. I prefer mine so that the white is just barely set, and the yolks are runny.
For a fancier look or if you’re serving a group with different preferences for how they like their eggs cooked, the dish can also be finished in smaller baking dishes. Transfer the sauce to individual baking dishes, add the eggs, and then transfer to a 375 degree oven. Cook the eggs to your liking. Pay careful attention, as the eggs will continue to cook slightly once removed from the oven.
Shakshuka is best enjoyed with a slice of crusty bread or pita.