Something with that much cheese and olives on it has to be delicious, right? Right. I’d never heard of this dish until I saw it in this post on Smitten Kitchen. I wasn’t doubtful per se of the recipe, it just seemed a bit unusual—but the recipe stuck in my head for months. There’s just something about the idea of a delicious tomato sauce with an oozing egg yolk paired with fresh feta (or ricotta) and olives… how could I not give it a try? The results: a delicious and simple weeknight meal for two. It felt more like comfort food than a healthy dinner, but shouldn’t most worthwhile recipes?
Shakshuka (or shakshouka) is a Middle Eastern dish, now primarily recognized for its prominence in Israel. Apparently it also resembles the Latin American dish huevos rancheros, which is more often a larger breakfast meal. Though, in its simplicity, I can imagine it would match a few other dishes too!
Serves: 3 portions
Cooking time: 35 minutes
- 1 tin (400 mL) diced tomatoes
- 3 eggs
- vegetables of your choice, I used about 1/4 butternut pumpkin, 2 small zucchini, and 1 brown onion, all chopped to bite-sized pieces—you can omit these if you want, or add other things like eggplant, mushrooms, potato, yam/kumara, cauliflower, etc.)
- 2-3 hot chili peppers, red or green, deseeded and chopped
- 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp each cumin and paprika and sugar
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper & dried parsley
- 1-2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley (or other fresh herb, like basil, cilantro/coriander, or oregano)
- handful black olives
- 1/4 cup or so of feta, ricotta, or goat’s cheese for sprinkling over top—cheddar would do too in a pinch!
- salt & pepper, to taste
Lug a bit of olive oil into a saucepan, saute the onion and garlic for a few minutes until they begin to go translucent. Add the chilies and other vegetables, cook until they begin to soften. Add the tomatoes and spices (omitting the fresh parsley, which is for sprinkling at the end). Add salt and pepper to taste. Let cook until all veggies are nice and soft, 10-15 minutes or so, or about 5 minutes if you’re not using other veggies. Keep partially covered so you don’t lose too much liquid.
Next, carefully crack each egg on top of the tomato sauce, and do not stir. Cover completely and let cook until your eggs are the desired doneness—you can spoon a little tomato sauce over them if you like. I like my yolks nice and oozy, so they were in for about 4-5 minutes—which worked out to be just until their tops turned white, then plus a minute or two for good measure.
Once eggs are pretty much cooked, sprinkle mixture with your cheese, olives, and parsley. Remove from heat, and cover for another 3-5 minutes so the cheese melts just a bit. Serve on top of warm pitas, or on a thick slice of fresh white bread, or something similar. Yum!