We know it, you’re not getting away as much as you’d like to these days. And for that matter, 2020 was short on travel, too. Life isn’t quite as exciting when you can’t be carefree and jump on a plane as much as you many have been used to doing. It’s hard to beat the thrill of exploring the sights, sounds and, most of all, the tastes of a new place.
So, what’s a travel-starved person to do?
While you may not be getting out as much, it doesn’t mean you can’t go to exotic places in your kitchen. With a little imagination, there’s still a ton of fun and adventure to be had at home — cooking that is.
In fact, with a few different spices and sauces and you can travel the globe pretty fast. Just think of it as a research project. A taste test of sorts to help you determine your next destination when you finally do get to start racking up those air miles again.
To get started, we thought we’d help you serve up a dish with a name that’s just as enticing as its taste — Shakshuka. We think just saying the word “shakshuka” is satisfying…almost as fun as it is to say the name of the French dessert known as “Croquembouche,” but we’ll save that one for another story!
What is Shakshuka?
The word itself in Arabic basically means “all mixed up.” And this dish is exactly that — a blend of tomatoes, peppers, herbs and eggs. It’s a very unique dish to serve to your brunch-time friends, although (truth be told) in Israel, it’s served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It’s also soup-ish, so make sure you have some focaccia or Challah on hand to help sop up the yumminess.
Where Did Shakshuka Originate From?
A favorite dish in Israel, ranking up there with falafel (another fun food word to say), it’s thought that Shakshuka originated in Yemen or Tunis, which are both in the northeastern part of Tunisia on the Lake of Tunis and near the Mediterranean Sea. It’s believed that immigrants from North African countries brought the dish to Israel where it earned the “favorite food” status it holds today.
Aside from being super flavorful, why else does it rank so high in popularity? There are a few reasons:
Its ingredients are affordable — think peppers, onions, tomatoes, spices, eggs and herbs, such as cilantro or parsley and maybe some cheese. Of course, there are many Shakshuka variations that add or subtract from these ingredients, but these also tend to be inexpensive staples.
Then in addition to its list of super basic ingredients, Shakshuka is very easy and quick to make.
What this means for you is that you don’t have to be up at the crack of dawn to be able to feed your friends a mouthwatering meal. They don’t need to know that, of course, but when you make Shakshuka, you can sleep in and still look like a master chef.
One other unique aspect of Shakshuka is that it’s a soft egg dish. So it’s a refreshing change from all of the scrambles and quiches out there. We love those too, but Shakshuka simply presents eggs in a different way and variety is one thing that makes the world so interesting.
Of course, if you’re not a soft egg kind of person, don’t worry. Just cook the dish a little longer until your eggs are just right for you. As long as you use pasture raised eggs, we’re behind you any way you want to make it!
How to Make Shakshuka — Your Way
There are many ways to augment this recipe to your own taste and creative preferences. You can mix up the spices in Shakshuka as we have done in this recipe by adding Harissa, a Tunisian hot chili pepper paste. Or add more of your favorite veggies. We like to use red, yellow and orange bell peppers simply because they add to the aesthetic of the dish. Likewise, sprinkling cheese, parsley or cilantro also boosts this dish’s gourmet appeal.
As for the eggs, we all know that not all eggs are created equal. And for this dish, the eggs are a stand-out ingredient. They sit on top of the tomato mixture, so their flavor is not masked or hidden by cheese and they’re not being scrambled into anything.
In other words, this is not the time to skimp on the eggs. Our pasture raised eggs, organic pasture raised eggs or our duck eggs with their even bigger yolks, will bring out the best in Shakshuka related to the taste of the eggs, their creamy texture and deep color.
Shakshuka with Pasture Raised Eggs
- 1/4 c Olive Oil
- 1/4 c Harissa If you like it hot, go for a ½ cup. If you can’t find harissa, you can substitute ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes instead.
- 1 cup Yellow Onion, diced
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced
- 1/2 Red Pepper, diced
- 1/2 Orange Pepper, diced
- 1/2 Yellow Pepper, diced
- 1 tsp Cumin
- 1 tbsp Smoked Paprika
- 1/4 Tsp Turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon Sea Salt
- 1 28-ounce can Whole Peeled Tomatoes, undrained
- 1/2 cup Water
- 4-6 Eggs (Use any Utopihen eggs that suit your fancy)
- Pepper, to taste
- Heat oven to 375° Fahrenheit.
- In an 8- to 12-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, garlic and chopped peppers and cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring from time to time.
- Add cumin, paprika, turmeric and sea salt. Stir for another 2 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, add canned tomatoes and mash with a potato masher. Add chopped tomatoes once smooth.
- Add tomatoes mixture, harissa and water to the pan with vegetables. Bring mixture to a boil. Then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook sauce for approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add pepper to taste and more salt if needed.
- Crack eggs over sauce. Try to distribute them evenly. If there are just two of you eating, you can use an 8- to 10-inch skillet and just two or three eggs. For more guests, you can use the 12-inch skillet with more eggs.
- Place the skillet in the oven and cook for 4-7 minutes until the eggs are just set — the whites have just turned opaque and the yolk is set, but still runny.
- If adding cheese, sprinkle it over the Shakshuka before the dish goes into the oven or sprinkle it halfway through cooking. You can also wait and sprinkle the cheese on top immediately after you take the dish out of the oven.
- Once the Shakshuka is removed from the oven, top it with cilantro or parsley.
- Let the Shakshuka rest until warm. Then serve with bread and, if you'd like, a side dish of your choice.
We like our Shakshuka served with chard or spinach — here's an easy-to-make version of one of our favorite side dishes:
- Tear chard into large pieces (or use spinach). Drizzle with olive oil and the juice of half a fresh lemon.
- Place chard or spinach in a skillet and sauté, or place it in a glass casserole dish and cook for approximately 8-10 minutes in the oven (along with the Shakshuka).
- Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
- If you didn’t sprinkle the cheese on the Shakshuka or have cheese remaining, you can sprinkle a little over the chard or spinach, or leave your side dish cheeseless.