I was almost going to call this A Nearly Store Cupboard Shakshuka, but I realised that might be a tad presumptuous. I have had plenty of times in my life when the cupboards contained barely a tin of soup, let alone the fixings for a whole meal, so I can’t assume that the likes of marinated artichoke hearts are going to be sitting idle in your pantry. Tinned tomatoes, I hope, but perhaps not the ‘chokes or the roasted peppers. The point is that these aren’t fresh, and you don’t have to do anything but chop them and thrown them in the sauce. And they are optional anyway. So it’s just plain old Easy Shakshuka. I digress…
Shakshuka, for the uninitiated, is a highly aromatic tomato and egg dish enjoyed all across North Africa and Israel. Ostensibly eaten for breakfast, it is probably eaten just as much for lunch and dinner, with a pile of salad and and an even bigger pile of fluffy white bread to mop up the savoury juices. I think the bread thing may even be a law. And if not, it should be: it absolutely cries out to have every crimson morsel eaten, with bread being the most efficient and delightful way to do so.
Although it is pretty quick to make I find doing the tomatoey bit the day before, and heating it up in the morning, is definitely the way to proceed. I recommend this method in order to a) not incur the wrath of any sleeping teenagers (your own or any stray ones staying the night), b) to get a bit more sleep yourself, c) see a. When everyone is awake just slide the raw eggs onto the simmering sauce, pop on the lid and a luxurious breakfast is yours before you know it. If you are really a morning person you could fry up a batch of last weeks’ Rosemary and Thyme Socca de Nice for scooping and mopping. But that’s just showing off, isn’t it?
Easy Shakshuka (Spiced North African and Israeli Tomato and Eggs)
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This recipe was inspired by a dish of North African shakshuka my Miss A recently ate at the fabulously rustic-chic and award-winning Earthy Café in Canonmills, Edinburgh. She loved it, pressing the accompanying wholesome bread into the iron skillet of brick-red, spicy sauce with much gusto. And barely a taste of it left for me (bad form). The miniscule mouthful I did manage to taste was indeed delicious, and I couldn’t wait to have a go at something similar myself. A bit of noodling around on the Internet looking at Yotam Ottolenghi’s and Tori Avey’s recipes, and a glance at the dish’s history on our friend Mr Wikipedia, was all I needed to take off in my own food to glow direction (yup, there’s kale in there). I zoozhed it up with some Mediterranean-ish store cupboard finds and spices I rely on for pep and depth, but you can easily strip it back, or freestyle. As you wish. The main essentials are tomatoes, onions, cumin and eggs. The rest is play.
4-5 fresh organic eggs
1) Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the onions and gently sauté for five minutes, or until the onion softens and loses its translucence.
2) Add the garlic, paprikas/cayenne, cumin seed/ground cumin, bay leaves, cardamom and coriander (if using), antipasti pepper and artichoke pieces, and sauté for a further three or four minutes.
3) Add the tomatoes with their juices, the kale, sugar, seasoning and oregano. Let this simmer until the sauce begins to reduce and become very fragrant – about 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning, adjusting with sugar, spice, and salt as you like.
4) With the sauce simmering, push in little indentations evenly around the surface and crack in the eggs. Cover the pan with a lid or tent of foil and let the eggs poach on the sauce for about 10 minutes. You want the whites set and the yolks runny, but cook a bit more if you want them firmer. For anyone with immunity issues (health, not legal) perhaps hard cook eggs separately and slice over the sauce when serving. This is a good option for any leftover sauce that you might want to take to work.
5) Serve immediately with extra herbs, hot sauce for those who want more heat, and plenty of bread for mopping.
Note: You can make the sauce ahead and reheat, adding the eggs once the sauce simmers. Perhaps add a bit of water if the sauce is too thick.
For Soft Food Diets: Blend the sauce to your desired consistency and carry on with poaching the eggs.