You know those moments where you can actually smell the dish you’re craving, more intensely than remembering the taste. That’s the way it is with Shakshuka, a wonderful middle-eastern dish. It’s such a uniquely identifiable presentation, simple yet complicated all in the same bite: a bit of sweet, a bit of heat, creamy smooth yet also chunky.
Although many people think of it as being an Israeli dish, it is found in every middle-eastern country as their own. There is a variation for it not just in every culture but in every kitchen: a bit more spice, no sweet peppers, heavier garlic, more pungent cheese, different herbs, a touch of sugar. Regardless, Shakshuka always has the essence of that perfectly married relationship we crave in the tastes and textures of our food.
This is another opportunity to use those oven roasted tomatoes I mentioned not long ago, the ones so helpful to have readily available, fresh or from the freezer. This recipe comes together in little time (especially if you have the components on hand): as well as the roasted tomatoes, add a bit of Harissa, a fresh sweet pepper, some eggs, crumbled feta, and your shakshuka is ready to assemble!
for an 8″ frying pan —
1 cup previously roasted tomatoes, onions and garlic
1 raw sweet pepper, sliced
1 large shallot, medium chop
1 tsp Olive Oil
generous Pinch Kosher Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper, chopped
1 tsp Harissa* (Tunisian hot chili sauce)
2 tbsp feta cheese, crumbled
2 Large Organic Eggs
In a hot frying pan add 1 tsp olive oil. Wait 30 seconds, add chopped shallot and sliced sweet pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring often.
Add 1 tsp Harissa. Blend well.
Add oven roasted tomatoes. Cook 2-4 minutes over medium-high heat, allowing all the ingredients to warm up and the flavors to blend together.
Sprinkle with feta cheese crumbles.
With the back of a spoon, make two indents in the tomato mixture. Break two eggs and drop one into each indent. Place the pan into the hot oven and bake 5-10 minutes, or just until the egg starts to set and the tomatoes are hot and beginning to brown around the edges of the pan.
Remove pan from the oven — be careful the handles will be very hot!
This is also a wonderful dish to prepare for a brunch. Here I used a 12″ non-stick (oven proof) skillet. Increasing the tomato ration to 3 cups, using 2 shallots, 2 sweet peppers and 1 tsp Harissa, 1/4 cup feta cheese along with 8 large eggs.
* Harissa – This can be found in Middle-Eastern stores, as well as many specialty grocery and gourmet food stores. I’m partial to the Traditional Harissa Spread made under the Les Moulins Mahjous label, it comes in a 6.5/185g glass jar.