Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 30 minutes
Do you ever get that feeling that everything old is new again? In the food world, this can be good news and that’s the case with shakshuka. Lately I’ve seen recipes for this egg and peppers dish everywhere: on restaurant menus, on blogs, in books, in the paper. No doubt, we can thank Yotam Ottolenghi for this; since he published recipes for shakshuka in both his books Plenty and Jerusalem, it’s new all over again.
I learned how to make this version 20 years ago from Joyce Goldstein of Square One restaurant in San Francisco (she was so ahead of the pan-Mediterrranean food curve) when I was working with her on a cookbook. Here’s what you do: saute onions, bell peppers, cumin, tomatoes, and olive oil together, then break eggs on top and cook until they are set. You can do this in one pan (see above) or in individual ramekins (see below). You can add other ingredients to make it a more complete meal. My latest additions include spinach and garbanzo beans and I sever it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Any which way, the Shak is back.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 large red bell peppers, cored and thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon cumin seeds or ground cumin
2 heaping tablespoons tomato paste
4 cups baby spinach leaves (about 5 oz), optional
1 small can (7 oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed, optional
In a 10- to 12-inch frying pan or saute pan, warm olive oil over medium-high heat and add onions, peppers, and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring, until onions and peppers soften and start to sizzle, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and cumin and cook for 30 seconds. Reduce heat to low, cover pan, and sweat vegetables until soft and pliable, about 15 minutes. (If planning to cook the shakshuka and eggs in ramekins, preheat the oven to 375° at this point.)
Uncover pan and raise heat to medium-high again. Spoon tomato paste into one area of the pan; pour about 1 cup water over the tomato paste and stir until tomato paste melts and mixture thickens; stir to blend with pepper mixture. (If using spinach and garbanzo beans, add spinach leaves a handful at a time to pan, letting each batch cook down before adding the next. When all the spinach has cooked down, stir in the garbanzo beans. Cook the mixture, stirring occasionally, until it’s hot throughout, 3 to 5 minutes.)
To serve in pan, make 4 depressions in the top of the pepper mixture with the back of a large spoon. Break an egg into each depression. Cover pan and reduce heat to medium; cook until eggs are set to your liking, 3 to 5 minutes (to test, touch the yolk gently with your finger to determine if it is still runny). Remove from heat and spoon shakshuka and eggs directly from pan.
To cook in ramekins, divide mixture among four 8-ounce ramekins or gratin dishes, filling each ramekin 3/4 full. Crack an egg into each ramekin, place the ramekins on a baking sheet, and bake in the preheated oven until eggs are set, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven carefully and let cool slightly before serving.