Eggs and spiced tomatoes: shakshuka
Like so many food blogosphere favourites, shakshuka puts all the italics and capitals in “OMG, why didn’t I make this sooner?!”
Ok, I lie a little…this is not really shakshuka, since it has lentils in, and no real chilli kick because I was wimpy. However, it follows the basic delicious formula of: cook onions, garlic, chilli and some spices, add tomato, crack over some eggs, cover, and serve with crusty bread. Every version is a little different, and this is excellent because your shakshuka can easily reflect the seasons (just use bottled tomatoes in winter), your mood, or whatever you have kicking around. It’s also fairly quick, depending on how thick you want it and how juicy/thin your tomatoes/bottled tomatoes are. This makes it a winning brunch or lunch to share, and make no mistake, this is best shared. There’s something lovely about dipping some crusty or crispy bread straight into a piping hot pan with a friend or er…someone who’s more than a friend. You won’t need to share washing up though, because there are no plates or other pans necessary. This is especially great in winter, as the pan keeps things from cooling down too quickly. It’s also a nice reminder of summer flavours without requiring any out-of-season purchases (well, this one is at least).
A few ingredients I’d like to highlight that makes this shakshuka shine. First, the NZ grown and made chipotle (smoked jalapeno) flakes from Orcona, which are available at Mercato if you’re in Christchurch. I’ve never had chipotle before, but my goodness, a whiff of this set me on fire. Parts of it are peppery and smokey, with the spicy kick appearing in unexpected bursts. Not cheap, but you don’t need much for serious impact. Of course you can use whatever chipotle you like, but I like this one. Second, my favourite passata from Med Foods in Christchurch, which I am ridiculously loyal to. Use fresh, very ripe tomatoes in summer though. Med Foods also happen to have the biggest selection of European olive oils, if you’re into that sort of thing – I snatched up some organic evol on special (it probably still is, hint hint) that has quickly become something I cook with more than cooking oil! It was especially amazing drizzled over the top of this shakshuka after cooking, adding a beautifully fruity note every few bites. Lastly, lemon juice. A little bit of lemon juice in tomato dishes helps complement the sweet and sour notes without tasting artificial, making for an intense but not sickly sweet experience. Lots of people use preserved lemon in shakshuka specifically as well, so feel free to do that (but scale back the salt dramatically)
Lentil laden winter-friendly shakshuka
Inspired by the NZ Vege Cookbook & Smitten Kitchen. Ottolenghi also has a rad-lookin summer version.
serves two on its own
ingredient amounts are pretty flexible, and you can sub things in and out as you wish – remember this is a super casual, easy dish :)
- extra virgin olive oil and optional butter
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 5 cloves of garlic, crushed and sliced/roughly chopped
- about 1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, or ground cumin
- about 1/2 tsp chipotle flakes (substitute: 1/4 tsp smoked paprika + 1/4 tsp chilli powder or cayenne)
- optional: 1 tsp paprika
- about 350ml tomato passata or chopped tomato (or equivalent in fresh, very ripe tomatoes in summer)
- salt and pepper to taste
- about 1c cooked puy/French or brown lentils*
- 4-5 eggs
- juice of half a lemon
- fresh chopped parsley
- sliced crusty bread (more white than grainy for this), brushed with extra virgin olive oil or butter and grilled until the tops are crispy
Preheat your grill for the bread. Heat 1 Tbs olive oil and butter in a medium/large lidded heavyish frypan, on medium heat. Stir in onions, cook until softened and start to brown on the edges. Stir in garlic, cook until softened. Meanwhile, bash the cumin, salt, chipotle and pepper in a mortar and pestle. Spinkle half over the onions and garlic, breathe deeply, and reduce heat to medium low/low. Let sizzle a little for a minute, then stir in tomatoes, lentils, and lemon juice. Let this mixture reduce on low heat for about ten minutes (or until your desired consistency). Taste, add more salt if necessary. Crack over eggs, and sprinkle everything with the other half of your salt/spice mix. Cover and let simmer for 5-7 minutes, depending on how cooked you want your egg yolks. While the eggs are cooking, grill your bread. I like cutting mine thin for this, but go with what you like.
Uncover, sprinkle over parsley and an extra drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve hot with your just-toasted bread.