Shakshuka is a hearty family-style breakfast dish of eggs poached in sautéed tomatoes, onions, and peppers. Although from North Africa, it is commonly found throughout the Middle East. I first ate shakshuka while traveling in Israel, where it is eaten as often for lunch or dinner as it is for breakfast. Using fresh, local tomatoes is ideal, but during the winter they can be hard to come by. I prefer using whole canned tomatoes because, according to Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Food Lab, “Diced tomatoes are packed with extra calcium chloride, which helps them keep their shape even after extended cooking. Whole peeled tomatoes, on the other hand, break down more naturally” during cooking. This dish has many variations, and part of the reason I’m so fond if it is because the recipe is flexible. It invites creative additions of spices, veggies, and toppings, using this recipe as a starting point. Cold-hardy greens such as kale, chard, and escarole are easy to find locally during the winter months and would make a great addition to the sauce. Note: Shakshuka can be made up to three days ahead, cooking the eggs right before you’re ready to serve.
Servings: 4 people
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 1 red bell pepper chopped
- 1 green bell pepper chopped
- 1 hot pepper jalapeño, serrano, etc, seeded and diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 tablespoon cumin
- 1/2 tablespoon coriander
- 1 teaspoon red chile powder
- 1 28- ounce can whole peeled tomatoes crushed by hand
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 4 to 6 eggs
- Cilantro or parsley
- Feta cotija, or other crumbly salty cheese
- Crusty bread for mopping up sauce
Heat an 8- to 10-inch cast-iron pan, or other deep skillet, on medium-high heat. Add oil to skillet and before it begins to smoke add onion, bell peppers, and hot pepper. Spread evenly in pan and do not stir, allowing peppers and onions to char slightly, for 5 minutes. Stir and repeat one or two times until onions and peppers are soft and browned slightly. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, stirring occasionally and not letting the garlic burn. Add dry spices and stir 30 seconds until fragrant. Add tomatoes and juices, crushing by hand right into the pan, and stir to combine everything. Reduce heat and simmer lightly for 10–15 minutes, until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Starting at the edge of the pan, use a large spoon to push sauce aside; then crack one egg into the space. Continue with the remaining eggs and spoon a little sauce over the whites, leaving the yolk exposed. Reduce heat to lowest setting and cover pan until whites have set and the yolks are at your preferred consistency, 5–10 minutes.
Season eggs with a little salt and pepper and sprinkle shakshuka with herbs and cheese and any other toppings of choice (chopped kalamata or oil-cured olives, scallions, diced cured chorizo, or anything else that speaks to you). Serve hot with crusty bread.