Shakshukah: Edible Mediterranean Sunshine

Have you heard of Shakshukah before?  When we were in London for three days of eating, one of the highlights was a Mediterranean breakfast at Fernandez & Wells.  Amelia had morcilla sausage and two fried eggs, while Jeff and I each had a small skillet of incredible eggs poached in tomato sauce.  I don’t think they called it shakshuka on the menu, because I’m pretty sure I would have made a note of it. Shakshukah is a popular dish in Northern Africa, and there are many different versions of it out there– also spelled chakchouka or shakshuka. It wasn’t until I saw this post from David Lebovitz, that I was sure what the name of the dish was I’d been missing.  As soon as I saw the pictures, I had intense hunger pangs.I went to bed thinking about it, and woke up the next morning with firm resolve to make it.  Rather than waiting till a more reasonable time, I made my family get dressed and walk to the supermarket with me, so I could buy the ingredients to make it for breakfast.  Everyone decided it was well worth the effort.  The recipe I followed, more or less, was the one adapted from Jerusalem (who’s author I am kind of crazy about) by David Lebovitz.

Shakshukah Recipe

What you’ll need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, ghee, or bacon grease (obviously not the Israeli choice!)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 – 1 chile pepper, stemmed, sliced in half and deseeded, finely diced/minced (I actually substituted some dried aleppo chile flakes)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika (or sweet you can substitute sweet)
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, crushed, or 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • two 14-ounce cans of diced or crushed tomatoes  (you can also use fresh– highly recommended when they’re in season– but cooking time will be a bit longer)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon red wine (or cider) vinegar
  • 1 cup (20g) loosely packed, roughly chopped greens– I used tatsoi this time
  • 4 ounces (about 1 cup, 115g) feta cheese, cut in generous, bite-sized cubes (optional)
  • 4 to 6 eggs
  • a small bunch chopped fresh parsley (cilantro would also be good)

What to do:

1.   Heat the oil in a large skillet or a pot, and add the diced onion.  Sautee´ for three minutes or so, add the garlic, and cook for another minute.
2.  Add all of the spices to the onion mixture, and cook until very fragrant, about two minutes.
3.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, honey, and cider vinegar, as well as the salt.  Let it cook down for  about 15 minutes, adding the greens halfway through.  Use a spatula to scrape the sides and bottom or the pan now and then.
4.  Once the sauce has thickened, taste for saltiness and acidity, and adjust the seasonings.5.  Now, you have a couple options– you could cook all of the eggs together in the skillet, or you could make up individual servings.  I chose the latter option.
6.  Spoon the tomato sauce into individual skillets or oven-safe dishes.  Press chunks of feta into the sauce at regular intervals, and then make little wells to accommodate the eggs.  Crack your eggs into the tomato sauce, and run a spoon through the whites to let them mingle with the sauce (but don’t break the yolks!)7.  You can bake these off in an oven, or cook them on the stovetop.  Gently simmer them on the stovetop for about 10 minutes, checking that the whites get cooked through, but the yolks stay soft.  I find that covering them helps.  Or, you can bake them in the oven at 375º for 10-15 minutes.  Again, you are watching the yolks, so they don’t overcook.  Garnish with plenty of fresh parsley.Traditionally, this dish is served with lots of crusty bread to mop up the tomato sauce with.  That sounds really good!  We are working with gluten allergies, however, so we improvised with broiled eggplant slices, which did the job very nicely.No one spoke at the table until Amelia looked up from her plate rather dreamily and said, “Mama, there is only one thing I can say about this… YUM.”  It was just as good as I had imagined it in my mind.  This dish is like edible sunshine– the colors are bright and rich, and flavors warm you from the inside.I saved about a cup of the sauce, and last night I used it to make a really wonderful fritatta.  I highly recommend doing that, and next time I’ll double the tomato sauce recipe, so we can make this for breakfast again quickly.  My stomach is growling right now as I write this out.  I think we’ll have to make another trip to the grocery store before Saturday morning!

Have you had Shakshukah before?

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27 Responses to Shakshukah: Edible Mediterranean Sunshine

  1. doro February 21, 2013 at 8:22 pm #

    I made the recipe from “Jerusalem” for dinner a couple of weeks ago. Everyone loved it, and I can’t wait to make it again.

    • Ariana Mullins February 27, 2013 at 11:21 am #

      I’ll bet! It’s one of those meals that works at any time of the day. I just bought “Jerusalem” this week, and have been LOVING it.

  2. Robin February 22, 2013 at 4:11 am #

    This looks amazing and I have all the ingredients!

  3. kitblu February 22, 2013 at 4:37 am #

    Not only have I never had it but I have never heard of it. Now that’s it’s on my radar, I will make it soon.

    • Ariana Mullins February 27, 2013 at 11:22 am #

      I hope you do– it’s so good, and multiplying the recipe makes it a really easy, special meal to whip together.

  4. Amanda February 22, 2013 at 1:49 pm #

    You read my mind! :)

    Ever since you originally linked to the Mediterranean Feast videos (and I watched ALL of them on a lazy evening) I have been dreaming about making shakshouka (shakshukah?)! My mouth just watered watching the Dr. Shakshouka segment – link right here.

    Since watching that I’ve made two semi-not-really-shakshouka attempts, which I simplified to:

    - 2 spicy chorizo sausages/person, put directly into a hot pan and browned
    - add 2 fresh tomatoes per person, cut into wedges. They will begin to break down and get all stewy and smoky and great.
    - add smoked paprika or pimenton
    - a bit of salt and pepper
    - drop in 2 eggs/person and swirl the whites as the yolks cook
    - et voila! mop up the delicious spicy tomatoey juices with a small hunk of fresh baguette (if you are ok with gluten that is.)

    So good! I will definitely want to try your recipe though, eggplant and all.

    • Ariana Mullins February 27, 2013 at 11:24 am #

      Amanda, that sounds pretty awesome! I would love to have chorizo in there…
      And I’m so glad you have been watching all of the Ottolenghi episodes– so inspiring, right?

  5. Anonymous February 22, 2013 at 2:38 pm #

    How many servings in your recipe?

  6. Caterina B February 22, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    This sounds delicious, Ariana. It makes me think of a recipe I found recently but have not tried, called “piperade.” We eat lots of eggs at our house because we have chickens so this will be a good one for us.
    I am so delighted to hear that Amelia ate the dish and liked it!
    So many children are so extremely picky today and won’t try anything other than the standard things so many people feed their kids.
    I don’t know how that happened, that the kids took the “power” away from their parents but I know it happens all the time.
    I have friends with small children and I have ordered a couple of books by ladies in France about how their children simply eat everything, hoping it will be helpful in teaching my friends’ children to eat well. I don’t remember what we did when our children were small but they ate whatever we put on the table and liked it.

    • Ariana Mullins February 27, 2013 at 11:27 am #

      Caterina, I know what you means about kids not seeming to eat most foods any more. We recently had a family with kids over for brunch, and I was SO happy and refreshed to see them eating absolutely everything, with gusto and gratitude. In my family, complaining about food was never tolerated, and could be grounds for missing that meal and the next! In our home, we focus on gratitude and curiosity, and complaints are not accepted. I am so thankful to have a child that loves food so much– how wonderful to be able to share this passion as a family!

  7. Anonymous February 25, 2013 at 2:56 am #

    I’ve never had this before but it looks amazing. I’ve been looking for something new to do with eggs. We have 6 chickens and they supply us with way more than we can eat! I do have a question for you Ariana. Has your daughter always been willing to eat the same foods that you and your husband eat? My five year old is rather picky and I can’t help but feel its my fault by not introducing her to more adventurous foods early and even worse falling into the bad habit of catering to her; for example letting her have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and fruit instead of the meal that I’ve made for the family just because she doesn’t like what we’re having. I love your food posts and when I read how Amelia loves what you make I can’t help but be a little envious! Do you have any suggestions that might help my situation? I’d be most grateful! :)
    Julie

    • Ariana Mullins February 27, 2013 at 11:32 am #

      Hi Julie! You are definitely not alone in having a picky kiddo that turns down a lot of foods. People actually mention this to me or ask for advice ALL THE TIME! I am formulating a couple posts about this in my mind. I think it’s really normal for mothers to want to feed their children, and substituting a favored food just to get a kid to eat quickly becomes a habit– totally normal, but not necessarily the best way. I remember when my daughter was 18 months old, she got on a cracker jag, refusing almost everything but crackers. I was not comfortable with feeding her such a nutrient-poor food, but also felt like I HAD to keep giving them to her, just so she would eat. I had an unusually thoughtful pediatrician that assured me that my instincts to not keep giving them to her were correct, and that she would NOT starve if I withheld them. We have had one rough afternoon when I took them away, but by the end of the week she was eating a rich, wide variety of foods, including bowls of cooked swiss chard. I never cook Amelia substitute meals. She is free to eat what we’re eating, and also free to skip the meal. Her hunger almost always prevails, of course, and her palate continues to expand. We also do a small “no thank you” helping of foods she’s not into (right now, it’s salad greens) so that there is no fighting at the table– she knows she has to eat it, does it quickly, and moves on!

  8. Heather Duff March 25, 2013 at 3:29 pm #

    I am excited to try this. We have been tweaking everything in our diet toward heathier options. My name is Heather and I am loving everything I am reading from you. I am a gardener and passionate chef. I had a caf’e years ago and now get to cook for my family and friends. I love that my kids have met our recent changes with nothing but YUM. It is “easy” to fall into bad habits with cooking, but so very rewarding to find renewed purpose and health in change. I must find this book, Jerusalem. Thank you for all you share. We are also on a path toward Torah observance and doing our best, thus the interest in the Feasts of the Lord. Bless you and yours.

  9. Anonymous April 1, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

    This is just like a dish called Eggs in Purgatory on the http://www.thedeepsouthdish.com website. Both look yummy!

  10. Judee@ Gluten Free A-Z Blog May 16, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    My husband is Middle Eastern and we love Shakshuka. Can’t wait to try your recipe.

  11. callisto July 29, 2013 at 8:58 pm #

    I dont do dairy right now, would it greatly wreck the recipe if i left it out?

    • Ariana Mullins July 31, 2013 at 3:07 pm #

      It will still be great! If you happen to have some chorizo on hand, I think adding that would be a nice extra burst of flavor, too.

  12. Cori January 6, 2014 at 5:23 pm #

    good gravy that looks amazing! can’t wait to make this one!! yum! pinned to share & remember!! xo

  13. Diana February 16, 2014 at 4:09 am #

    Best. Breakfast. Ever. :) Thanks for sharing this recipe. Discovered it two weeks ago and have cooked it twice already. It’s definately a firm favourite at this end! :)

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