Shakshuka | Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce
Eggs ... I have to confess that historically, I've not liked the taste. However, in recent years, the need for morning protein in order to support my thyroid has found me looking for ways to enjoy them. Shakshuka is one of my favorite ways!
When I first heard about this dish from David Lebovitz during his trip to Israel, I knew I could get on board. The sauce would probably mask the taste of the eggs a bit, right? The great thing, too, is that it's also awesome for lunch with a salad or for dinner with some roasted potatoes (and the salad) ... I'm not complaining about these eggs.
David's recipe is superbe and I use almost all of his ingredients, but I change the method. The sauce starts with sautéing onions and garlic till they are soft and translucent. Then comes the real aromatics ... a pepper and some spices.
Let's talk about the pepper first. I've tried jalapeno and serrano and my favorite is the serrano, but if you're really into the heat, you could use a habanero. I stem and seed it and it's just the right amount of heat. Yes, that's a plastic bag on my fingers holding the pepper.
Now let's talk about spices ... cumin seeds and caraway seeds first. I love using those whole and hand-grinding them in the mortar and pestle. There's something about the fragrances rising up to my nostrils while I do that that heightens the anticipation of eating this dish. Adding turmeric and smoked paprika only enhances the whole experience. After adding the pepper and the spices to the pan, they become fragrant after a minute a two, then the tomatoes can go in.
What kind of tomatoes to use?
- Fresh is a great choice! Just chop and add them.
- Canned is also a good option. And they can be whole, diced, or crushed because you will be pureeing the sauce anyway.
- My favorite is this Mutti brand of tomato puree that, on the authority of a friendly Roman, is a premier Italian brand.
Shakshuka Serving Options
In David Lebovitz's recipe, he has you add greens (spinach, kale, greens of any kind!) to the sauce (a sensible nutritional addition) and put cubes of feta in the sauce before making indentations for the eggs.
However, after having Shakshuka at a local restaurant where they purée the tomato sauce and crumble the feta cheese on top of poached eggs, I realized that I prefer it that way rather than chunky like David's recipe. It's a personal preference kind of thing.
So, I break out the blender and purée everything then if I'm serving more than myself, I return the sauce to the pan and crack the eggs in to bake. However, there's nothing stopping me from making a batch of this to keep in the fridge for "Shakshuka-on-Demand"! For individual servings, I use smaller skillets or individual baking dishes.
My puréed version without greens is almost like a tomato soup with eggs cooked whole in it. Break the yolk and scoop it up with the sauce ... maybe some crusty bread? The photo shows a fork, but seriously, get the biggest spoon in your silverware drawer and just ladle this yumminess into your mouth!
Shakshuka | Eggs in Spicy Tomato Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 onion peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 chile pepper stemmed, halved, seeded, and finely diced ( like serrano peppers)
- 1½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika or sweet, (smoked is my preference)
- 1 teaspoon caraway seeds crushed
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds crushed (or 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin)
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes cored and diced, or 2 (14-oz) cans whole tomatoes, puréed in the blender, or equal amount of tomato purée
- 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 1 teaspoon red wine or cider vinegar
- 1 cup loosely packed greens such as radish greens, watercress, kale Swiss chard, or spinach, roughly chopped (optional)
- 1 cup feta cheese crumbled
- 4-6 eggs
- Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for 8-10 minutes, until soft and translucent. Add the chile pepper, salt, pepper, and spices. Cook for another minute, stirring constantly to release their fragrance.
- Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, honey, and vinegar. Decrease the heat to medium and cook for 12-15 minutes, until the sauce has thickened somewhat. (Fresh tomatoes might take longer to cook than canned.) Stir in the greens, if using.
- If you're not using the greens and you prefer a smoother sauce, transfer everything to a blender to purée. At this point, you can return all the sauce to the pan and and continue with the recipe to cook all the eggs at once, or you can put sauce in individual baking dishes. I like to make the sauce and keep it in the fridge for "Shakshuka-On-Demand".
- Make the number of indentations in the sauce that you need for as many eggs as you are cooking. Crack the eggs into those indentations.
- To cook, you can bake in a 350 F oven for 8-12 minutes or you can cook on the stove for about 10 minutes, using a lid for an additional 3-5 minutes to be sure the whites are done. The yolks should still be runny when the eggs are done.
- Serve with crusty bread or pita bread.
- Bon Appétit!
- If you make a batch to keep in the fridge for "Shakshuka on Demand", I have found that it helps to warm the sauce first before adding the egg to bake.