My husband got a taste for shakshuka, the Middle Eastern egg and tomato dish, when he was travelling in Israel last year, and he hasn’t let up about it since. In the past year we’ve had it for breakfast, brunch and lunch, and with a few variations literally thrown in, it makes a great supper as well. Made with the best tomatoes you can get your hands on-which should be easy this time of year-and served with thick slices of fresh bread or soft pita it is a one dish masterpiece. Shakshuka is a great way to use up those fresh tomatoes that are just a little over ripe and not suitable for salads or sandwiches.
Shakshuka is thought to have originated in Northern Africa, and was introduced to Israel in the fifties by Jewish immigrants of African origin. Today shakshuka is pretty much ubiquitous in the Middle East and Spain, with minor variations showing up in different countries; sometimes artichokes, potatoes or spicy sausage is added to the skillet of simmering tomatoes, onion and garlic. Sliced red peppers and eggplant are also popular additions, depending on one’s tastes and the size of the crowd. Eggs are then gently cracked and poached slowly in the bubbling sauce and the pan is usually finished with fresh chopped herbs like coriander and parsley, then taken straight to the table.
As it is a skillet dish you can make shakshuka in the great outdoors too, on a grill over an open fire, so it is a wonderful and surprising dish to serve at your next camping adventure. A cast iron pan is best to use, inside or out, and is the perfect serving dish as well. Use a small, six-inch pan for individual servings and a larger pan for groups and let your family and guests dig in!
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tsp paprika
½ tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cayenne
salt and pepper
28 ounce can of tomatoes or chopped fresh ripe tomatoes
2 eggs per person
coriander and parsley, chopped
Heat the oil in a cast iron pan over a medium heat and add the onions, cooking until soft. Add the peppers then stir in the garlic, paprika and cumin and cook for another couple of minutes.
Smash the tomatoes and add, bring to a low boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Here you could add optional extras like quartered baby potatoes, sliced spicy sausage or chunky eggplant. After half an hour, season with salt and pepper and adjust spice level to taste.
Turn the heat down even lower and gently break in the eggs. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until yolks are semi-soft. Garnish with coriander and parsley and serve immediately with bread or pita.