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Shaksuka (or shaksouka) is a wonderful, versatile egg dish I have been making more and more often; my husband and I usually devour our bowls and wonder aloud why on Earth we don’t eat some every week. Shaksuka is affordable, vegetarian, suitable for any meal of the day, quick to prepare and made of ingredients you most likely have in your house right now. The perfect meal, yes?

About this time last year, I posted a recipe for eggs in purgatory, another favorite of mine; very similar to shaksuka, potatoes and different spices make eggs in purgatory much starchier (obviously) and more like a hash. I was scolded by someone I will not “out” here for calling this dish “shaksuka”, as it does not contain cumin and I like to add spinach for an extra nutritional kick. Thus, my version is not traditional. I am a stubborn broad, and I shall continue to call this shaksuka. A dish originally Tunisian in origin and now widely associated with Israeli cuisine, my gut says that not everyone in the world uses the exact same ingredients, proportions, etc. You can call it whatever you want, and customize your version by leaving out the spinach, adding or subtracting serrano peppers to adjust the heat level, or adding in something else that sounds good to you. If you find a great ingredient addition, I would love to hear about it! Shaksuka is similar in feel to huevos rancheros or Turkish menemen, if you know either of those dishes, so you may want to try adding green peppers, or serving with tortillas instead of bread. Trust me that this is a wonderful recipe to play with, whatever substitutions you decided to make, and I bet you will want to make it again and again. I am hungry for a bowl right now!

shaksuka

Shaksuka, My Way (serves 2-4)

  • 1 T. grapeseed or canola oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped (2/3 c. or so)
  • 1/2 serrano pepper, minced (with seeds for extra heat)*
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 c. fresh spinach, washed and dried, tough stems removed or chopped
  • 2 c. plain tomato sauce (or canned chopped tomatoes)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly-ground black pepper
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 oz. feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
  • cilantro or parsley to garnish
  • bread or naan to accompany

In a 10″ or 12″ cast-iron skillet, Dutch oven or similar, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and serrano pepper and cook until softened and fragrant, about 5 mins. Add the garlic and spinach and cook until the spinach begins to wilt, about 3-5 more mins. Pour in the tomato sauce, add salt & pepper and stir to combine all the ingredients into a sauce. Reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook until the spinach is soft and the sauce is bubbling, about 10-12 mins.

Remove the lid, stir the sauce and, as best as you can, make four evenly-spaced wells in the sauce around the outside of the pan. Crack an egg into each well; don’t worry about perfection, but even spacing does help them cook, well, evenly. Cover and cook for 5 mins., until the yolks are set and the whites are opaque. (If you want drier yolks, cook for a few minutes more, carefully– don’t let it go too long or the eggs will be tough and chewy. The residual heat of the sauce will cook the eggs slightly after the pan is off the heat.) When the eggs are done to your liking, sprinkle the crumbled feta cheese over them. I also like to grind a few more turns of pepper over the top. Scoop 1-2 eggs into a bowl with a generous portion of sauce; garnish with cilantro or parsley, per your preference, and serve hot. Crusty French bread or warm naan are highly recommended as scoops/sauce sponges so you don’t burn your fingers.

*The serrano peppers we have been getting lately have been scorchers. I tend to use the seeds, too, and found that a whole pepper plus seeds creates spiciness that overwhelms the dish, so I have been using half of one pepper, with seeds. I suppose I could use a whole pepper with the seeds removed and have the same, or similar, heat level. You want a little kick in there, so I don’t recommend leaving it out completely, but if you really don’t care for spicy food, perhaps a milder jalapeno would be a good starting place.

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