Tasty Tomatoes: Shakshuka, or Poached Eggs in a Spicy Tomato Sauce

I’m not sure at what age my friends and I started to become adults.  At least in the food sense. There are a lot of ways in which we are definitely not grown-ups:  Yearly pilgrimages to Disney World, beach volleyball all summer long after work, the occasional dance party that lasts until 3 AM.  However, at some point our taste buds grew up, and suddenly we could differentiate between blue cheese and gorgonzola, knew that red wine, not from a box, was to be paired with red meat, and appreciated the value in the occasional bottle of $30 super-aged balsamic vinegar.

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It was also around this time that our emails and notes tended to be less of the “I ate at this great place last night” to “I MADE this fantastic dish last night.” We all still love to eat out, but most of the time I think we’d all agree that a good home cooked meal can be better than the best 5* food money can buy.

One of the first recipes that I added to my “food” email folders came from Licorice. Long before I entered the blogosphere myself, or even knew of food or cooking blogs, Licorice was in the know, and passed on a recipe for this strange Israeli dish, shakshuka she happened upon from The Smitten Kitchen.  It is easy, cheap, spicy and tasty, and quickly became her go-to lazy day dinner.

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While cooking international dishes is now old hat to me now, it wasn’t always, so this shakshuka in a way acted as a baby step into global cooking. If you’re hesitant to wet those sea legs, this may be a good start for you as well.  And since I’m digging into my archives this week, shakshuka was just the ticket.

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In Israel, this can be eaten for dinner, for breakfast or just because. I suggest you do the same.

Note: This can easily be a clean-out-the-fridge meal, so feel free to throw in any veggies that are looking questionable at the end of the week.

A few changes from smitten’s original:

Red onion; prettier, IMO.

Smoked paprika; I can’t get enough.

Lemon and way more parsley; they go in everything

Oregano; a whim.

Goat cheese: OBSESSED.

Honey; sometimes I’m just not sweet enough.

I almost added bacon but thought of it too late. Foiled!

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

2 TB olive oil

3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and thinly sliced (if you want more heat, feel free to add more)

1 small red onion, coarsely chopped

2 heaping TB garlic, minced

1 TB ground cumin

1 TB smoked paprika

1 tsp Greek oregano

1 TB honey

1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained

½ cup water

1 lemon, juiced

Salt and pepper, to taste

6 eggs

½ cup goat cheese, crumbled (who are you kidding? You know you want more than that)

½ cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Warm naan, for serving

Directions

1. Heat oil in a large, deep 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add peppers and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, oregano and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.

2.  Add the tomatoes and their liquid into the skillet and crush with the back of your wooden spoon. Add about ½ cup water, honey, and reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until desired thickened, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper.

3.  Crack the eggs over sauce so that eggs are evenly distributed across sauce’s surface. Cover skillet and cook until yolks are just set, about 5 minutes. Using a spoon, baste the whites of the eggs with tomato mixture, being careful not to disturb the yolk. Sprinkle with cheese and parsley and serve with pitas, naan and roti, for dipping.

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Served just as it is or with naan for dipping, this was the kick I needed to clear these stuffed up sinuses.

I made roti. I was going to make naan but was too lazy. Plus, most have yeast, which I’m technically not supposed to have. Roti was just fine.

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