Part of what I love about traveling is getting to try the new food, and being inspired and taking that idea or recipe back home to add to an ever-growing arsenal of recipes to have in my own kitchen. When I traveled to Nicaragua, TD&H and I had chimichurri one night on steak, and ever since we’ve made it with frequency for any dish using meat. Our trips to Turkey have opened the door to countless food revelations, most notably the value of fresh ingredients and a few clutch spices (and lemon and yogurt!). TD&H has been inspired by trips to Costa Rica to make fried plantains on occasion. Then also there are the influences of American cooking; I soon learned after moving east that there are regional differences to barbeque, that people outside of California have not heard of tri-tip (what?!!), and that the Mexican food in California is just unbeatable compared to any other state. I’m currently reading My Life in France about Julia Child’s culinary adventures in Paris, and I think I feel part of what she must have felt; that enjoying and learning how to cook the local food is a gateway into different cultures and experiences.
This shakshuka is not one of those recipes. I’ve tried making this dish a few times. I must confess, I’ve never had shakshuka anywhere other than my own home, so I can’t attest to how authentic mine tastes. I have, however, determined my favorite way to make it, after trying recipes from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem (an amazing cookbook, I highly recommend!), Smitten Kitchen and the New York Times. In this recipe, I’ve pumped up the spices used. Why not? I’ve also added some meat to make it more filling for a main course meal (TD&H needs meat). Typically, in Middle Eastern countries from whence this dish is derived, it is commonly served as breakfast sans meat. Or so I’ve read. Maybe one day I’ll try it in the streets of Tunisia or Israel.
I was first drawn to this recipe because of its aesthetics. I loved the look of cracked whole eggs floating happily on a bed of vibrantly red tomato sauce. It also seemed like such a fun dish to share with a group. I imagined eager hands dipping crusty bread into its juices across the table. Little did I know this beautiful dish was also easy and delicious.
Ingredients you’ll need:
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, halved and thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, thinly sliced; for this post I used an orange merely because the store was out of red peppers
4 cloves of garlic, sliced thinly
1 T cumin, 1 T paprika, 1/2 T cayenne pepper (rough estimates); salt & pepper to taste
1 lb ground meat (I used turkey)
28 oz can of marzano tomatoes, I prefer the diced ones but you can chop them up or squeeze them between your fingers
1 can tomato sauce (I add this to counter the viscosity of the meat)
1 container of crumbled feta
3-6 eggs (your preference)
1/2 C cilantro, chopped
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
After slicing the onion and pepper into thin strips, heat in olive oil over medium heat until soft, about 20 minutes.
Toss in the sliced garlic, and continue to cook for another 2-3 minutes, mixing to incorporate.
At this time, also add the spices.
Next, add the ground meat, breaking into smaller pieces with a spoon or spatula. Once mostly cooked through, add the tomatoes (with juices, yum!) and sauce.
Gently simmer for another 10 minutes or so, to thicken.
Toss in the feta crumbles and thoroughly mix.
Make shallow little divets in the mixture where you plan on putting the eggs to help them stay in place. Crack eggs onto the sauce and admire your work. This is my favorite part.
Place in the preheated oven for 10-11 minutes (until egg whites are no longer transparent and egg yolks move slightly when you jiggle the pan).
Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes or so. Sprinkle the cilantro on top before serving. Carry out to table, feel like a boss in the kitchen, and enjoy with crusty bread.
Tangent! Since it was snowy and there was nothing else to do but be so domestic, we also dove into a latke recipe from the Jerusalem book. It involved grating up the bag of potato we had lying around, as well as some parsnip, and combining it with egg, chive, and some light spice and frying into patties.
Nom nom nom nom.