General

Shakshuka Recipes Deliver Flavor, Color and Protein

Shakshuka egg recipes deliver flavor, color and protein. Photo by Bill St. John for UCHealth.
Shakshuka egg recipes deliver flavor, color and protein. Photo by Bill St. John for UCHealth.

One nice thing about getting older (I’m 72) is that surprises mean more.

My younger friends talked about a dish called “shakshuka” and, for the life of me, I thought it was some form of sushi. Another thing about getting older is that regret can also mean more. I find myself that rare person who did not get shakshuka (also spelled shakshouka). After tasting and sharing these recipes with friends and neighbors, I regret it. Shakshuka, spoons down, is a tasty meal.

Disputes around both the name and origin of shakshuka, almost everyone points out that the two central ingredients of the traditional recipe – tomatoes and peppers – would not have made it to the areas where shakshuka is widely consumed today, both the Middle East and the Middle East and the Maghreb (northwest Africa), well beyond Columbus and the Colombian exchange. The latter is that vast portions of food from the New World with the Old (and back again) were made possible only by the voyages of Columbus and those who followed him.

The name “shakshuka” may come from a Berber Arabic word meaning “mixture” and every shakshuka certainly is. Plus, each recipe lends itself to an almost endless variation in it.

So experiment with these recipes yourself by adding or processing spices, different types of meat, such as ground lamb, sausages or pieces of poultry, different vegetables or cheeses and toppings. Or keep it completely vegetarian. You could even scramble into the eggs for a version of a Turkish “shakshuka” called menemen.

While I prefer my shakshuka eggs over running yolks, you can be careful and cook yours until firm.

Also try not to use canned diced tomatoes for the red version. Almost all brands of canned diced tomatoes contain calcium chloride, which helps to keep the diced tomatoes firm, just like small diced tomatoes. You don’t want that; you want a smooth, thick, slightly thick sauce under those eggs.

It is best to use canned peeled whole tomatoes, the best you can afford. Smash them, as the recipe dictates.

Recipe for red shakshuka

Adapted from seriouseats.com and cooking.nytimes.com. Serves 4-6.

ingredients

3 tablespoons fruity olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, sliced ​​along the “poles”

1 large red bell pepper, stem, seeds and ribs removed, thinly sliced

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced ​​or finely chopped

1 tablespoon sweet paprika powder

3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste

1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes (see note)

1/2 cup lightly packed coriander leaves and tender stems, chopped

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped, mixed with the coriander

6 large eggs

Directions

Using a large (at least 10-inch, preferably 12-inch) heavy-bottomed stainless steel or cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat and cook the onion and bell pepper, uncovered, until distinctly softened and beginning to brown or brown in places. turn black, about 8-9 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 90 seconds longer, then make an opening in the center and add the herbs and seasonings, stirring them together until they become aromatic, about 45 seconds longer. Mix them with the onion, pepper and garlic.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them well with your hands as you pour them into the pan, or while they’re in the pan, crush them with a potato masher or pastry blender. Reduce the heat to low and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring the mixture once or twice, and cook for 10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cilantro and parsley (reserve the remaining 1/2 for garnish) and mix well.

Make 6 wells with the back of a large spoon, 5 around the perimeter of the shakshuka and 1 in the center. Carefully break an egg into each well and push back the edges of the whites that want to run off towards their yolks. Lower the heat and cover the pan.

After 5 minutes, lightly tap the top of the yolks to see how far they’ve come and continue cooking if necessary, covered. Serve garnished with the remaining 1/2 cilantro and parsley.

There are many options to shake up your shakshuka recipes.  Try this green version.  Photo by Bill St. John for UCHealth.
There are many options to shake up your shakshuka recipes. Try this green version. Photo by Bill St. John for UCHealth.

Green shakshuka recipe

Adapted from cooking.nytimes.comthemediterraneandish.com and downshiftology.com† Serves 4-6.

ingredients

3 tablespoons fruity olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced ​​along the “poles”

4 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced ​​or finely chopped

3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

3/4 teaspoon coriander powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed, cored and finely chopped or very thinly sliced

9 cups baby spinach and baby cabbage mix (see note)

1 teaspoon ground Aleppo (or Urfa or Mexican) red pepper

Juice of 1/2 lemon, without seeds

1/2 cup lightly packed coriander leaves and tender stems, chopped

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped, mixed with the coriander

6 large eggs

1/2 avocado, peeled and thinly sliced ​​lengthwise

1/2-3/4 cup cotija cheese, in crumbs, to taste

1 medium jalapeño, thinly sliced ​​into “coins” or rings

1 large shallot, sliced, white and light green parts only

Directions

Using a large (at least 10-inch, preferably 12-inch) heavy-bottomed stainless steel or cast iron skillet, heat oil over medium heat and cook the onion, uncovered, until it softens distinctly and begins to brown or blacken in places , about 8-9 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 90 seconds longer, then make a well in the center and add the cumin, coriander, salt and pepper, stirring together until aromatic, about 45 seconds longer. Mix them with the onion and garlic.

Add the Brussels sprouts and start turning everything over with tongs. After 5 minutes, add the greens in handfuls and let each batch shrink, turning again with the tongs, until all the greens have set in. Sprinkle with the lemon juice. (If the vegetables haven’t released much water and the pan seems dry, add 1/2 cup water; then another 1/4 cup if needed. Over medium heat, skillet contents should now be on the edge.)

Make 6 wells with the back of a large spoon, 5 around the perimeter of the greens and 1 in the center. Carefully break an egg into each well and push back the edges of the whites that want to run off towards their yolks. Lower the heat and cover the pan.

After 5 minutes, lightly tap the top of the yolks to see how far they’ve come and continue cooking, covered, if necessary. Finish with the remaining ingredients in a way that suits you.

Remark: This blend is readily available in large plastic containers in many grocery departments, or you can make your own. Or use a mix of other moderately firm vegetables, such as destemmed chard leaves or tender black or red Russian kale.

Reach Bill St John at [email protected]