Shakshuka or Shakshouka is a one-skillet recipe of eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers and onions, often spiced with cumin, paprika and cayenne. Although under debate, it is widely believed to have a Tunisian origin. It can be the perfect dish for brunch lunch or even 'brinner' (breakfast disguised as dinner) though in Israel it is synonymous with breakfast served with a pile of pita or challah on the side to mop up the sauce. This is an easy dish to prepare at home and the recipe can be interpreted in many ways. The sauce comes together fairly quickly on top of the stove. After that it is only a matter of gently cracking each of the eggs on top of the skillet, nestling them into the sauce and then baking in a pre-heated oven for a few minutes. Or else you can do the whole thing on the stove-top.
Apart from being simple and satisfying, this dish is also wholesome and waistline-friendly. Eggs are a good source of protein, iron and essential vitamins; tomatoes are a rich source of lycopene (a strong antioxidant); bell peppers are known for their antioxidant and vitamin C content and parsley is an excellent source of vitamins A, C, and K. You can tweak the ingredients to include spinach, okra, eggplant, mushrooms, zucchini, corn, peas, chickpeas etc thereby customizing it to your taste and enhancing the nutritional profile (at the cost of authenticity though!). Fresh ripe tomatoes can be used in this recipe but I prefer canned whole plum tomatoes because it gives a richer, more intense color and is more convenient. Most recipes call for the use of anaheim peppers (which is not a commonly available ingredient in this part of the world) but you can alternatively use jalapeños for some heat. Keep in mind that the anaheim pepper falls in line more with the bell pepper – a somewhat sweet pepper flavor whereas the jalapeño pepper has a bright grassy bite to it. And lastly, although different people like their eggs cooked differently, for this dish ideally, when served, the eggs should be still runny so that the yolks mingle with the spicy sauce.
I have adapted the recipe from The New York Times which strays from more traditional renditions of this North African dish by adding crumbled feta cheese. I love feta cheese (the husband not so much) so it is not a variety of cheese that features commonly in recipes that come out of our kitchen. But for this particular recipe, I made an exception because I made this dish all about me! tee...hee The feta softens into little creamy nuggets in the oven’s heat and makes this version moreish.
Update: Look how nice it looked when I tried this recipe a second time with only 4 eggs
Make this for your egg-loving family and/or friends and watch them slobber all over it! ☺