Post by Molly
While I’m sad to have picked the very last of my tomato bounty for the season, I must admit that I find almost as much joy in snagging a half-priced bucket of San Marzanos at Trader Joe’s as I do plucking a fresh one from my garden. Considered by most chefs as some of the best sauce-making tomatoes, I did as the can suggested and made a vat of garlicky sauce, slathered it over pizza, and topped it with golden chanterelles and truffle oil. Whoa.
But no matter how carefully I measure, tomato sauce always seems to be one of those refrigerator staples I have too much of. After days of feeling uninspired by the red jar staring me in the face, I was reminded of a delicious tomato-based breakfast dish I ate while living in Israel: shakshouka. Yes, a perfect opportunity for tomato revival.
Shakshouka is a dish of eggs poached in a spicy tomato-pepper stew, topped with feta and herbs. It has Tunisian origins but is widely popular in Israel, Morocco, Egypt, and other Middle Eastern countries. The name shakshouka is derived from the Hebrew verb leshakshek, meaning “to shake” or “to mix.” The spicy flavors of chili peppers and paprika are a perfect compliment to the sweet tomatoes, but the levels of spice can be altered to your liking. Sweet bell peppers work as a nice substitute to hot ones, and varying kinds of paprika can be used as well. After spending a summer in Spain, I won’t settle for anything less than pimentón de la vera—the smokiest, sexiest paprika out there with just the right amount of kick. This special spice can be found at Big John’s PFI in SoDo, a family-owned specialty imports store and Mediterranean food lovers’ wet dream (yes, they have a cheese library).
Shakshouka is most often eaten as a hearty egg breakfast, but I like to enjoy it as a stew with warm pita—an essential instrument for soaking up every last drop of tomato goodness.
Prep time: 15 minutes / Cook time: 40 minutes / Serves 4 / Need: Cast iron pan
WHAT YOU NEED:
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 red onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
- 2 cups tomato sauce
- 5 small beefsteak tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 5 dried chili peppers, chopped with seeds
- 1.5 tsp. pimentón de la vera (Spanish smoked paprika)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta or other salty cheese (I used zamorano, a sheeps cheese similar to manchego)
- 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
WHAT YOU DO:
- Heat the olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat, and sauté the onions, garlic, and cumin for about 7 minutes, until translucent
- Add tomato sauce, chopped tomatos, chilis, paprika, salt, and pepper
- Preheat oven to 425, cover the mixture, and let simmer for about 15 minutes, until fragrant and thick
- Taste, and if the flavors are to your liking, crack the four eggs on top, moving the pan around so that the whites form a thin layer over the top of the mixture
- Place the pan on the top rack of the oven and let cook for about 15 minutes, checking periodically
- When done, the whites of the eggs should have filled out in color, and the yokes shouldn’t jiggle too much when you move the pan
- Remove from oven, scoop into bowls, and sprinkle with parsley and cheese