There are a lot of reasons to make shakshuka, an
Israeli Tunisian dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce: It sounds like the name of a comic book hero. Or some kind of fierce, long-forgotten martial art. Or perhaps something that said comic book hero would yell as they practiced this elaborate martial art, mid-leap with their fist in the air.
Or you could make it because when I talked about making eggs in tomato sauce a while back a large handful of comments were along the lines of “oh, this sounds like shakshuka” and “I think you would love shakshuka” and “you really should make shakshuka” and you may have shrugged and forgotten about it until you finally had it at a café one day and whoa it turns out you really would like shakshuka!
Or you could make it because that café had the audacity to close for Passover last week, right when you had the fiercest shakshuka craving yet. I mean, couldn’t they just not serve it with pitas? Must I eventually be forced to make everything myself? Can’t I just have one thing that I let other people make perfectly for me, every time? No, I could not. Not if I wanted to eat what I really wanted to eat.
Thus, I suggest you make it because it turns out that it tastes really, really good from your own kitchen. Fantastically good. And not only is it easy to make, it’s budget-friendly, waistline-friendly and no-time-to-cook friendly. It could be a weekend brunch or a weekday dinner or lunch or a “I can’t believe we are being assaulted with a snowstorm in April!” consolation prize. It could be part of an Middle Eastern dinner party, replete with homemade salad, pitas and hummus or it could be a “my favorite takeout joint had the nerve to close for a holiday!” pity party. But I’ll warn you: me and my little buddy walked by the café today and breathed a sigh of relief that it had reopened so I could be freed from making my own lunch once again. And then I remembered how good the homemade shakshuka had been. And I kept on walking, kicking myself for always going and creating more work for myself. I never learn.
Shakshuka [Eggs Poached in Spicy Tomato Sauce]
Adapted from Saveur
Serves 4 to 6
1/4 cup olive oil
5 Anaheim chiles or 3 jalapeños, stemmed, seeded, and finely chopped (I was nervous and only used 2 Anaheims; I would go for 3 or 4 next time for a more moderate but still gentle kick)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed then sliced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 28-ounce can whole peeled tomatoes, undrained
Kosher salt, to taste
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
Warm pitas, for serving
Heat oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add chiles and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, cumin, and paprika, and cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is soft, about 2 more minutes.
Put tomatoes and their liquid into a medium bowl and crush with your hands. Add crushed tomatoes and their liquid to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, reduce heat to medium, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 15 minutes. Season sauce with salt.
Crack 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 shakshuka with feta and parsley and serve with pitas, for dipping.