A new dish has come into my life recently. I mean, it’s an old dish, maybe very old, and maybe you’ve been eating it for breakfast or dinner all your life, but I’ve only gotten to know it in recent years. And I’m a little obsessed. It’s called shakshuka.
It’s a Tunisian dish, or an Israeli or a Libyan dish, depending on who you ask. All I know is that I’ve been loving a version from my local bagel shop (which also inspired that caramelized onion hummus recipe). Shakshuka is a mildly spicy stew of tomatoes and peppers, adorned with a poached egg. In this recipe, adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, the eggs are poached right in the tomatoes and peppers, making for a one-pot meal of the most delicious sort.Shakshuka (adapted from Plenty): Toast 1/2 tsp. cumin seeds in a wide, heavy pan over high heat for two minutes. Add 1/4 c. vegetable oil and 2 thinly-sliced large onions and saute for five minutes. Add 4 large peppers of various colors, sliced into 3/4″ strips, along with 4 tsp. dark brown sugar, 2 bay leaves, the chopped leaves from six sprigs of thyme, 2 Tbsp. chopped parsley, and 2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro. Continue to cook over high heat for 5-10 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until the peppers begin to brown.
Add 6 roughly-chopped ripe tomatoes along with 1 tsp. ground cumin, 1/2 tsp. saffron threads, a pinch of cayenne pepper, and salt and pepper to taste. Reduce heat to low and simmer until thick and saucy, 15-30 minutes. (Ottolenghi says you may need to add a bit of water to reach a saucy consistency–I didn’t–but don’t add more than a cup.) Taste and adjust the seasonings; the stew should be very flavorful.
Remove bay leaves and make eight deep indentations in the peppers. Carefully crack an egg into each. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on each egg. Cover the pan and cook over very low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking. Sprinkle with cilantro and feta cheese if desired. Serve with bread to sop up every drop of the sauce.