There’s a special place in recipe heaven reserved for this dish.
First of all, you can make it in one pot. Second, there’s a good chance you already have most of the ingredients you need, save for the feta and the serrano pepper, and the pepper costs two cents (literally – they are sold by weight). Third, it’s fun to say. Shakshuka!
Don’t worry about which country “invented” shakshuka or you will step directly into a cultural sh*tstorm. (Google “Who invented shakshuka” and you’ll see that tempers run high.) Just know that it is enjoyed in many parts of the Middle East and North Africa and it is truly delicious.
It’s the perfect meal to make later in the week when you haven’t been to the grocery store in a few days. It’s also the kind of recipe that would be very easy to sneak additional veggies into, if you were so inclined. Just don’t do anything that makes it too complicated — its history is already complicated enough.
Shakshuka: Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce with Chickpeas and Feta
(recipe from Bon Appetit. Serves 4)
Growing up, my house ranked at about a -50 on the Scoville Chile Heat Scale. We just didn’t do spicy. So I am a wimp and I only use 3/4 of one tiny serrano pepper, even though the recipe calls for two, and other recipes call for even more. The one pepper gives it a nice amount of kick without being “spicy.” If you weren’t raised in a world sheltered from all capsaicin, go ahead and use more.
- olive oil
- 1 small to medium onion, finely chopped (about a cup and a half). If you only have a huge onion on hand, don’t use all of it or the dish will be a little too sweet.
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely chopped
- one small jalapeño or serrano pepper, seeded and finely chopped
- 15 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand, juices reserved
- kosher salt and pepper
- 1 cup crumbled or chopped feta
- 4 eggs
- pita bread to serve (optional, makes the dish decidedly less gluten-free)
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
3. Heat a few glugs of olive oil in a sturdy, oven-safe pot or skillet (enough to cover the bottom). Add the chopped onion, garlic, and pepper and sauté until soft, about 5-8 minutes, over medium-high heat.
4. Add the chickpeas, 1 tsp cumin, and 2 tsp paprika. Stir and cook for another two minutes.
5. Add the tomatoes with their juice. You can either crush the tomatoes by hand in the sink (saving the juices and seeds) or do it directly in the pot, which I found easier. Either way, wear an apron because they will squirt. Crush the tomatoes into bite-sized pieces.
6. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste, keeping in mind that you’ll be adding salty feta too.
7. Turn off the heat and sprinkle the feta on top. Using a wooden spoon, make a small depression or “well” in the sauce to that will hold the egg.
8. Gently crack the egg into the well, being careful not to pierce the yolk. Repeat with the other eggs, evenly spacing them around the pot (you can do as many eggs as will fit).
9. Put the pot in the oven and bake for about 5-15 minutes, until whites have turned white and firm but yolks are still soft. The original recipe says this takes 5 minutes, but it has always taken me longer than that. My sister said hers were done in 10 minutes. So keep checking.
10. To check for doneness, jiggle the pot a bit. If the eggs still look totally liquidly, bake for another few minutes. If they look like they are firm and holding their shape, they are done. Better to err on the side of done. In my opinion you’re aiming for a medium-boiled egg, but you can do less or more depending on what you like.
11. Gently scoop into bowls, topping each with an egg. Serve with warm pita and garnish with parsley or anything else green you have around, if desired.