Shakshuka!

I realized something kinda crazy: I have had this blog going for 8 months, and I have yet to post a single recipe. Now, depending how long you’ve known me, you may or may not know just how into food I am. I’m a lot into food. I’m a lot into cooking. I’m a lot into baking. (In fact, past me had a now-mostly-defunct-food-blog). I’ve done a lot of cooking (and some baking) this year. But, I have yet to post a single recipe…until now.

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Tomato season is back. When I first arrived in the fall, tomatoes were everywhere and I found myself making dish after dish with them, as is the only appropriate response to loads of in-season tomatoes. Then, as happens every year, the weather cooled and the tomatoes started tasting sad, and I stopped buying them.

Since they’re back, it was time for me to take on a dish that, at home, I felt pretty lukewarm about but that, here, I have come to love. I’m talking, of course, about shakshuka (pronouned shock-SHU-kuh).

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Here are my folks eating shakshuka in December at Tmol Shilshom in Jerusalem

Shakshuka, it turns out, is pretty easy to make. I won’t claim that mine is perfect or perfectly authentic, but I enjoyed making it and I’m excited to share how I did with all of you.

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Ingredients (for 1-2 servings):

  • Glug olive oil
  • 1 small onion, medium dice
  • 1/2 red pepper, medium dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2-3 tsps paprika (hot if that’s your thing)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup water, plus more as needed
  • 2 eggs
  • a few sprigs of basil, parsley, or both
  • bread, veggies, and tehina to serve (optional)

 

Procedure

The key to shakshuka is to be gentle. There’s no rush. Heat a skillet over medium-low heat, let the oil warm up, and add the onion. Let it cook for a few minutes, stirring a bit, until it’s started to soften and go golden. If it starts browning, you’re in a rush and cooking it too high. Chill. Cut the heat back. IMG_1884.jpg

Once the onion has started to go soft, add in your garlic and pepper, which will naturally offer a little bit of moisture if you’re cooking low enough. Let them cook together, stirring, for 3-5 minutes.

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Time for the tomatoes to make their debut. Slide them in, along with as much of their juice as you can manage to preserve. Add the cumin, paprika, and some salt. Then, after cooking a couple minutes more, add in the water. Many shakshuka recipes that I saw called for both tomato paste and water. Since I opted for cherries, which have a little less juice, and I didn’t have tomato paste, I just guestimated here. IMG_1894.jpg

Now it’s really time to let time do its work. Let the mix come to a simmer (giving the heat a tiny boost if necessary) and cook for about 10 minutes. The tomatoes should start to fall apart without completely losing their sense of self, and much of the water should integrate into the mix. IMG_1897.jpg

Now it’s time for the egg well. I don’t know how easy it is to see in this picture, but in the middle of the pan there’s a square that’s a bit deeper than everything around it. That’s for your egg. (If you’re cooking 2 eggs at once, you’ll need 2 egg wells. If you’re planning to get 2 meals out of your skillet, I suggest cooking 1 egg and then cooking the second egg as you reheat the leftovers. It tastes better fresh.)

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Crack the egg into the well, being careful not to break the yoke, and then cover the pan. Timing is the tricky part here. You want the yolks runny and the whites not. I mean, you can cook your eggs however you like, but that’s how I like them in this. I set a timer for 7 minutes the first time and found the yolk too solid and 5 minutes the second time and found the whites solid enough to not be scary but not as solid as I like. I think 6 would probably be the sweet spot but I haven’t had time to try it yet.

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When the egg is done to your liking, cut the heat, garnish with herbs, and serve up. I like to have bread for dipping and crunchy veggies and tehina for contrast, but you do you. Happy Tuesday, folks.  IMG_1905.jpg

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