Shakshuka!

It’s going to be a cold one on the East Coast this weekend — time for a warming breakfast that gives you the power and energy to get through the day. Here’s one amazing option — Shakshuka! Not only is it fun to say, it’s a delicious, savory, healthy egg dish that makes for an exciting and comforting meal. 

Shakshuka!

We’re back in the Middle East again, using a combination of onions, hot chiles, garlic, sweet paprika, and ground cumin to make a perfectly spicy, hearty tomato sauce, in which eggs are poached to make the perfect savory breakfast. Or lunch. Or dinner. This is an extremely versatile dish.

The base recipe is fairly traditional. Variations on the theme can be found in Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, and Libya, among others, but I’ve added an extra component that really takes it to the next level -- a smoky, spicy yogurt sauce that’s dolloped on top for an extra layer of flavor and a cooling creaminess that complements the spiced tartness of the tomatoes.

And here’s a pro tip: if you don’t want to make all six servings at once, poach however many eggs you want at a time, and save the remaining tomato sauce for another round of Shakshuka, your new favorite word.

Spices used in this recipe


Cumin Ground
Paprika, Spanish Sweet
Salt, Kosher
Paprika, Hungarian Sweet
Paprika, Smoked Spanish
Cayenne Pepper
Salt, Kosher

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 jalapeño chiles, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (pickled jalapeños work well here, too)
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp. Vanns Ground Cumin
  • 1 Tbs. Vanns Sweet Spanish Paprika or Vanns Sweet Hungarian Paprika
  • 1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes and their juices
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Vanns Kosher Salt, to taste
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 Tbs. chopped cilantro, flat-leaf parsley, or a mixture of both
  • Smoky Spicy Yogurt Sauce (recipe below) and warm pita bread, for serving

Preparation

  1. Heat olive oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Be sure to use a pan that has a lid, as you’ll be covering it to properly cook the eggs later on. When oil is hot, add the chiles and onions with a pinch of kosher salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown. The salt helps to extract moisture from the onions and brown them more efficiently. In general, it’s a good practice to season with a bit of salt throughout the different steps of the recipe rather than trying to add it all in at the end. Seasoning along with way incorporates the salt more fully into the different ingredients as they go into the pot.
  2. Anyway, once the onions are soft and golden brown, add the garlic and Vanns spices and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is soft and the spices are fragrant, about two minutes more.
  3. Pour the can of tomatoes and their liquid into the skillet. Use a potato masher to break the tomatoes up into manageable chunks -- think about what size of tomato chunks you’d like to eat with your eggs and aim for that. Add 1/2 cup water, bring to a simmer, and then reduce the heat until the tomato mixture is bubbling gently. Cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Mash the tomatoes up a little bit more along the way if you like. Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed. Remember that the feta cheese sprinkled on top at the end will add some extra salt as well.
  4. Add the eggs. If you’re going for efficiency, crack them directly into the simmering tomato sauce so that they’re distributed evenly across its surface. If you’re a little unsure of your egg-cracking skills or are a perfectionist, you can use the same method as you would with poaching eggs, cracking them first into small cups and then pouring them one by one onto the sauce. This ensures that you won’t get any broken yolks or pieces of shell in the pan. But make sure to get them in fairly quickly, so they all cook for the same amount of time.
  5. When the eggs are in the sauce, cover the pan and simmer gently until the yolks are just set, about five minutes. Uncover the pot and use a spoon to baste the egg whites with the tomato sauce, being careful not to disturb the yolk. When whites are set, serve! I prefer to do individual bowls, scooping some tomato sauce into the bottom of each before topping with an egg, a sprinkle of feta and fresh herbs, and a dollop of Smoky, Spicy Yogurt Sauce.

Serves 6. 

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.

SMOKY SPICY YOGURT SAUCE

INGREDIENTS

  1. Stir Vanns spices into yogurt until fully incorporated. Spanish paprika can sometimes clump together when added to a liquid, so be sure to catch all the pockets of spices that may be hiding in there.
  2. Stir in olive oil until fully incorporated. Salt to taste, starting with 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt and going from there.
  3. For best results, refrigerate the sauce for at least an hour before serving to allow the flavors to fully mix into the yogurt. For hungriest results, serving right away is just fine.

This sauce has other uses, too! Use as a healthy dip for crudités, stir into tuna, chicken, or egg salads as a replacement for some or all of the mayonnaise, spread on sandwiches for a smoky kick, or dollop on top of roasted vegetables for some extra flavor. Anywhere you want to add some savory creamy coolness to a dish, this sauce will work.

Makes 1/2 cup.

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