This recipe has been on my radar for a while. When I first came across it, I thought to myself: “Shak-shuk-what?!” The name sounded intimidating, and I had never seen a dish like it before: A big skillet full of tomato sauce, with pools of sunny side up eggs and a sprinkling of herbs. How would it come together?, I wondered.
As it turns out, shakshuka is less daunting than it looks. In fact, it’s relatively easy to make, and only requires one skillet. You add onion, peppers, olive oil, and garlic to a large pan or cast-iron skillet, let it soften, and then add tomatoes (canned works fine, as long as the tomatoes are whole).
Let the sauce cook down for about twenty minutes, until it begins to resemble a stew. Then, make small wells with a spoon, and crack an egg over each well. The egg will splosh over a little, but don’t panic. One of the great things about this dish is that it’s meant to be a little messy. Egg whites floating in red sauce? No problem! Pass it off as a work of art.
I brought the leftovers for lunch today, and my co-worker asked me what I was eating. “Shakshuka,” I replied with pride. I was met with a blank stare, and so I explained that it was like huevos rancheros…without the rancheros. But really, shakshuka is a dish unto itself. And once you’ve made it, you’ll probably feel the same sense of accomplishment. Or at least, the satisfaction of having tried.
Shakshuka (adapted from Chocolate & Zucchini)
– olive oil
– 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
– 1 medium to large yellow onion, thinly sliced
– 1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
– Ground chili powder to taste (I used about 1/4 tsp)
– 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
– 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
– 1 teaspoon paprika
– 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
– 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
– 28 ounces canned whole tomatoes (1 large can)
– 4 to 5 fresh eggs
– the leaves from a few stems of fresh cilantro
– freshly ground black pepper
– good crusty bread, for serving
Serves 2 to 3
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add the garlic, onions, bell peppers, and chili pepper if using. Stir and cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the seeds and spices (cumin to cinnamon), stir well, and cook for a minute until fragrant.
Add the tomatoes, stir, and simmer uncovered over medium-high heat, stirring regularly, until all the ingredients have melded together, the excess juices from the tomatoes have evaporated, and you’re left with a thickish sauce — exact timing will depend on how juicy your tomatoes are, but expect around 20 minutes of simmering. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
Make sure the sauce is quite hot before you add in the eggs. Depending on the number of guests, form 4 to 5 shallow wells in the sauce with a spoon, and break an egg into each. Some of the whites will spill over to the next wells and that’s fine. Cook over medium heat without disturbing until the whites are set to your liking.
Sprinkle with cilantro and pepper. Serve immediately, using a spatula to lift the eggs without breaking the yolks, with bread for mopping up the juices.