Wednesday, July 3, 2013

An Egg-Celent Dish from a Friend

*A version of this post also appeared in the Tennessean.

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I love learning about new foods. A few weeks ago my friend Kristin introduced me to Shakshuka, a spiced Middle Eastern tomato dish with poached eggs. The day I first tried it, she brought over the spiced tomato base and we cracked in a few of our fresh eggs (we have three chickens – more on that here). Our group effort turned out great – after one bite, I was in love. This is my kind of dish both because of its taste and flavor but also because it’s a snap to make.

Shakshuka, it turns out, is an Israeli dish often served during Passover* when leavened bread and many grains are avoided. It’s filling, flavorful and has meal versatility in that it works for breakfast or dinner.

Shakshuka1

The dish starts out with a base of sauteed onions and peppers. Next, sweet paprika, cayenne and cumin are added to the skillet to toast for a minute before a can of whole tomatoes goes in. As the tomatoes and their juice reduce, a thick, velvety sauce develops. When I serve this for dinner I add in a can of chickpeas, too.

Shakshuka2I like using nonstick skillets when I’m not cooking with meat for easier clean up (stainless steel skillets promote better browning in proteins.)

Shakshuka3This is how I toast the spices. Clear a space in the veggies and make sure they are in direct contact with the skillet. I immediately mixed them together to keep them from burning, but kept them from the veggies for a full minute.

Shakshuka6In go the tomatoes and chickpeas!

Now the magic happens: toss in some feta, then crack several eggs into little nests that poach in the sauce. Before serving, sprinkle with fresh-chopped cilantro and a squirt of hot sauce (I like Sriracha) and you’ve got yourself a delicious dish and a gorgeous presentation.

Shakshuka7Look at those sweet little eggs. Thanks ladies! (that’s a shout out to my hens.)

Shakshuka8This happens in about 3-4 minutes once you cover the dish.

Your eyes will be the first to feast. As you tuck into the poached eggs, the warm yellow yolk flows into the nooks and crannies of the tomato pieces. You’d think Shakshuka was the national dish of Italy since its main elements carry the colors of the flag – bright red tomatoes and peppers, white poached eggs and green cilantro.

I’m a big texture person and I love how much is happening in this dish. The thickened sauce studded with softened feta and hunks of tomatoes, the tender egg whites and firm chickpeas, the crisp cilantro and caramelized onions.

Shakshuka9

Shakshuka would be great anytime of year but it’s especially nice in the summer since it comes together so fast and requires only short use of one burner. It’s also composed of mostly pantry staple ingredients, uses just one skillet and is on the healthy side with its focus on veggies and spices for flavor instead of much fat. Can’t ask for much more than that!

Thanks so much to Kristin for turning me onto this dish. Cheers to good friends and good food!

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Shakshuka

Yield: 4 servings

Total Time: 30 minutes

In many version of this recipe once the eggs are added the dish finishes in the oven I found the skillet method to be simpler and just as effective, plus you don’t have to heat up your oven during the summer.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon cayenne
1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes with juices
1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
salt & pepper to taste
1/2-1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
4-6 eggs
chopped cilantro
hot sauce

Directions:

In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Once it’s shimmering, add onions and cook until beginning to turn translucent, 4-6 minutes. Add pepper, and cook until it starts to soften, 2-3 minutes more. Add garlic, stir to combine, then immediately clear a space in skillet to add spices, allowing spices direct contact with skillet. Toast for 1 minute.

Add tomatoes and cook until sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes. Add chickpeas and season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in feta.

Using the back of a spoon, make a pocket to crack each egg into. Cover and cook 3 to 5 minutes until eggs are just set. Don’t overcook.

Serve immediately with cilantro and hot sauce. Enjoy!

Recipe adapted from Melissa Clark’s recipe in The New York Times May 3, 2013.

*Please note there is some debate on whether or not chickpeas are kosher for Passover.

 

One Response to “An Egg-Celent Dish from a Friend”

  1. 1

    La Aguacate » Nashville Cooking Classes — September 4, 2013 @ 9:07 am

    […] Belle Meade, http://www.nashvillejcc.org Cllass topics have included cooking with herbs, making Shakshuka (a popular Israeli baked egg dish that I blogged about), and how to bake Challah bread. Classes are open to any interested community members. Visit the […]

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