by Erin Lis
A hearty Israeli dish of eggs poached in a simmering tomato sauce flavored with middle eastern spices.
The first time I tasted shakshuka was about 11 years ago when I sat down for breakfast with my future in-laws for the first time. I had been dating my (now) husband for a few months and had just arrived in Israel on a solo trip to tour universities (and oh yea, meet his parents!). After an all night red-eye, I landed in Israel and was welcomed into the open arms of his warm, energetic, and loud Israeli family. Shakshuka is like that. It’s made from simple wholesome ingredients of tomatoes, bell peppers, onions & poached eggs, and my father-in-law (Shabtai)'s version is packed with spice. Not the "hot" kind of spice (though there is definitely a kick!) but a rich earthy flavor from tons of cumin, paprika, chili powder, tumeric, and a touch of cayenne. Of course, Shabtai takes the time to stew down fresh tomatoes that he buys on Wednesdays from the local "shuk" to make his sauce - but when I'm in a hurry, I cheat using a combo of tomato paste and diced canned tomatoes & you have yourself a delicious vegetarian meal in less than 30 minutes!
Shabtai’s Shakshuka (serves 8)
1 medium yellow onion diced
1 red (or yellow or orange) bell pepper
(seeded) and diced
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. paprika
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. tumeric
2 tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. cayenne
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced (or stewed) tomatoes
1 can (6 oz.) tomato paste
2 cup water
8 large eggs
salt and pepper to taste
1/8 cup finely chopped parsley (to garnish)
Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan on medium/high heat. Add the chopped bell pepper and onion and cook until the onion becomes translucent (approximately 5 to 8 minutes).
Pour the water, tomato paste, and can of tomatoes with juice into the pan and stir until tomato paste is blended well. Add spices, salt, and pepper and bring the sauce to a simmer. Let sauce reduce in pan uncovered for approximately 5 minutes.
One at a time, make a small well in the sauce using a large spoon or spatula and crack an egg into the well. Continue doing this for each remaining egg. Cover the pan and cook for 5-8 minutes, or until the eggs are done to your liking (I like mine cooked hard). *If you run out of space in the pan, you should have enough sauce leftover to make a second “batch” with the remaining eggs.
Garnish with chopped parsley.
Serve with fresh baguette or pita bread, with a dollop of hummus on the side.
Bet-ay-ya-von! (bon appetite!)