Even if you didn't grow up eating shakshuka, chances are if you're at all into food, then you're familiar with the dish by now. The simple one-pan meal is made by gently poaching eggs in a skillet full of tomatoes, onions, peppers and spices. While the eggs make it seem like a clear breakfast or brunch food, shakshuka is a hearty vegetarian meal that is perfect any time of day. Seriously, next time you're in a weeknight dinner crunch, consider whipping up some shakshuka. Need some guidance? We're here to help. Read on or jump straight to the recipe.
Shakshuka originated in North Africa and is frequently attributed to the country of Tunisia. Tunisian Jews brought the dish with them to Israel, where it has become an unofficial national dish. The explosion in mainstream popularity of Israeli food spurred by food celebrities like Yotam Ottolenghi brought dishes like shakshuka stateside, where you can now find all kinds of creative variations on menus across the United States.
If you're not familiar with shakshuka, then perhaps you know its Italian cousin, eggs in purgatory — i.e. uova in purgatorio. But is is shakshuka the same as eggs in purgatory? Both recipes feature eggs poached in tomato sauce but they do have subtle differences. Namely, Middle Eastern versus Italian seasonings, plus the lack of peppers on onions in the Italian rendition. But the spirit of the two dishes is very similar.
Shakshuka is a simple dish, and simple accompaniments are often the best choice. Whether you are eating shakshuka for breakfast or dinner, the one thing you must have to accompany shakshuka is bread — plenty of bread. Pita is a common choice but honestly anything that will sop up that delicious sauce will work well. A simple tomato and cucumber salad or other greens also make a lovely accompaniment.
Making your own shakshuka from scratch is shockingly easy. The trick is to add the ingredients a bit at a time to create layers of flavor. First saute sliced onion, then bell peppers and jalapeno (if you want a little heat). Next up, add garlic, tomato paste and harissa (if you want more heat and depth of flavor). Add a can of whole crushed tomatoes or chopped fresh tomatoes plus the herbs and spices and simmer. Finally, this recipe calls for chard leaves. After you add all that, the raw eggs are dropped right into the sauce to cook.
If you are short on time, you could easily saute some onion, garlic and pepper before adding a jar of good tomato sauce. Poach the eggs right in that and you've got yourself a meal in under 20 minutes.
Though the tomato-based shakshuka is classic, there are countless variations. You can add feta or other cheeses to the dish. Top with fresh parsley or cilantro for an herbacious flair. Instead of a tomato base, try poaching the eggs in sauteed spinach for green shakshuka. Add in other vegetables or seasonings. Have fun with it! After all, it's one of the all-time best ways to cook eggs.
Recipe adapted from chef Einat Admony and courtesy of Handsome Brook Farms
Step 1: In a large skillet, heat 3 tablespoons canola oil over medium heat.
Step 2: Add 2 onions, chopped, and sauté over medium heat until translucent, 5 to 10 minutes.
Step 3: Add the sliced bell pepper and chopped jalapeño and cook just until softened, 3 to 5 minutes.
Step 4: Stir in the 4 cloves chopped garlic, 3 tablespoons tomato paste and 1 tablespoon pipel chuma or harissa; sauté for another 2 minutes.
Step 5: Slowly pour in the crushed tomatoes and their juices.
Step 6: Stir in the bay leaf, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 tablespoon cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper and 1 teaspoon ground caraway. Let the mixture simmer for 20 minutes.
Step 7: Layer the 1/2 bunch chopped Swiss chard leaves on top.
Step 8: Crack 8 to 12 eggs, depending on how many people you are serving, into the tomato mixture. Cover and simmer for approximately 10 minutes or until the whites of the eggs are no longer translucent. Remove from the heat and serve immediately with plenty of bread.