Shakshuka – Not Your Momma’s Peppers and Eggs
Shakshuka, come on, say it with me, shak-skuk-a. Doesn’t that feel good. It does to me as well. Now lets discuss what this amazing word means and why I think you should give it a go. Shakshuka is a traditional Israeli street food. To those not familiar with the dish it can be likened to another one of my favorite breakfast foods, Huevos Rancheros. Like Huevos Rancheros, this morning delight consists of eggs which are half poached, half steamed in a flavorful tomato sauce. Rather than the traditional spicy and tomato based ranchero sauce that is emblematic of Huevos Rancheros, this dish is cooked with a cumin scented mixture of peppers, onions, and tomatoes.
It is simply the best breakfast food I have ever had. Really. And it is so seriously easy to make at home that you must try it, I implore you. Like Nike says “just do it.”
Its easy to see why this dish is such a hit in Israel. It is simple, cheap, and amazingly flavorful. I mean, seriously, whats not to like. While it was criminalized for its cholesterol content during the 90s the egg is back on top and in favor with many in the nutrition industry in recent years. As Web MD explains “The confusion over eggs stems from their cholesterol content. One large egg contains 213 mg of cholesterol, accounting for two-thirds of the recommended daily limit.” Not only are eggs off of the list of suspects but they are now being touted as an amazing source of complete vitamins and protein. As web MD’s Kathleen Seldman explains “Along with milk, eggs contain the highest biological value (or gold standard) for protein. One egg has only 75 calories but 7 grams of high-quality protein, 5 grams of fat, and 1.6 grams of saturated fat, along with iron, vitamins, minerals, and carotenoids. The egg is a powerhouse of disease-fighting nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin. These carotenoids may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in older adults. And brain development and memory may be enhanced by the choline content of eggs.
The sauce for the shakshuka can be made several days in advance and can be stored in the refrigerator and reheated in a pan before cooking the eggs. The sauce makes enough for approximately 8 eggs or around 4 servings. It can easily be doubled, without affecting the integrity of the dish so please feel free to double or triple if you would like to make additional servings. Just be sure you have a pan big enough for the peppers and tomatoes to sit comfortably. Traditionally this dish is served in Israel in individual small pans, I used a larger pan when I made this which works just as well. Whatever pan you choose be sure you have a lid which fits snugly on the top, it is imperative that the cooking vessel is lidded to trap in the steam which will cook the tops of the eggs while the bottoms solidify over low heat.
I like to serve these eggs sitting atop nice thick pieces of toast. As you cut into the eggs the bread will absorb the sauce and and runny part of the yolk and the combination is simply delicious. I imagine that any leftover sauce would make a great topping for bruschetta with or without the addition of a bit of goat cheese.
1 TSP Cumin Seeds
1/2 Cup Olive Oil
2 Lg Onions Sliced Thinly
2 Red and 2 Yellow Peppers Cut Into Thin Strips
2 TSP Muscovado Sugar
6 Sprigs Thyme, Picked and Chopped
4 TBSP Parsley Chopped
6 Ripe Tomatoes, Chopped
1 Pinch Saffron Strands
Pinch of Cayenne
Salt and Pepper
About a Cup of Water
8 Farm Fresh Eggs
Heat a large skillet over med heat. When the skillet is hot add cumin seeds and dry toast until fragrant and slightly darker in color.
Once the cumin has toasted add the oil, once the oil is hot add the onions and sautee for 5 mins. Add the peppers and sautee another 5-7 mins or until the peppers are very soft.
Add the tomatoes, saffron, sugar, bay leaves, thyme, and cayenne. Add some salt and pepper (about a 1/2 TSP salt and a TSP pepper). Add the water and cook on low heat for 15 minutes.
Separate the sauce into the pan you plan to use. Make wells in the tomato and pepper mixture for the amount of eggs you plan to use, crack an egg into each well and turn the heat to low. Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper on top and lid the pans. Simmer 8-12 mins depending on how done you like your eggs. I am traditionally a runny yolk sort of a girl but with the tomato sauce I like the yellows to be a bit more set and trend towards 1o mins on cooking time.
When the eggs have finished cooking sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley on top.
Carefully remove the eggs from a pan and set atop some thick slices of toast. Serve and enjoy!