The first time I had shakshuka I was on a gastronomic tour of Israel, during which I stuffed myself silly on ethereal hummus, beautiful vegetable salads, and sabich, pita filled with eggplant, egg, and potato. Each night when I got back to the room, I called David to gush about the incredible food. But of all the dishes I had, shakshuka was my favorite. The juxtaposition of gently coddled soft-cooked eggs in a robust (and often fiery) sauce is part of its great appeal. The rich yolks temper the acidity of the tomato-based sauce and soothe the fire from the chili pepper.
In our version, spinach gives the dish textural and flavor variation (not to mention nutrients!), and crumbled feta adds a touch of appealing saltiness.
Serve shakshuka with a crusty baguette to sop up all the sauce—it’s one of the best parts of the dish.
Who Invented Shakshuka?
Countries throughout the Middle East and North Africa claim shakshuka as their own. A Moroccan friend of ours swears it originated in his homeland, Tunisians are certain it is theirs, and Israelis point out that they are the ones who made this dish known throughout the world.
We understand; we’d like to lay claim to this skillet full of deliciousness, too. Instead, we’ll just appreciate that it serves as a basis for many a fast and wonderful dinner—and often with variations. In this version we’ve added spinach and feta, but it can also be made with more diced vegetables in the tomato mixture, including zucchini and/or cauliflower. You can easily make wildly different-tasting version by (for example) giving the tomato base Tex-Mex flair with jalapeño, lime, and cilantro; or Indian by starting with minced fresh ginger, cardamom, cumin, and coriander and swirling in chutney. You can also add leftover cooked grains to the base to make it heartier. The bottom line: Make this meal your own. Hey, you could even claim you invented it.
From Hero Dinners by Marge Perry and David Bonom. Copyright © 2019 by Marge Perry and David Bonom. Reprinted by permission of William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large red bell pepper, cut into ½-inch pieces (about 1 ½ cups)
- 1 large green bell pepper, cut into ½-inch pieces (about 1 ½ cups)
- 1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
- 1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach (about 6 cups)
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (about 4 ounces), divided
- 8 large eggs
- Preheat the oven to 375 °F.
- Heat the oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium heat. Add the bell peppers, onion, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are very soft, 14 to 15 minutes. Stir in the paprika, cumin, and cayenne and cook to combine for 1 minute.
- Stir in the tomatoes and ½ teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened, 14 to 15 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until it is wilted and bright green, about 2 minutes. Stir in ½ cup of the feta cheese.
- With the back of a large spoon, and working one at a time, make 8 equally spaced indentations, or wells, in the top of the sauce. As soon as each indentation is made, crack an egg into it. When all 8 eggs are nestled in the sauce, sprinkle them with the remaining ¼ teaspoon salt.
- Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the egg whites are just set and the yolks are still runny, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Remove the skillet from the oven and sprinkle the top with the remaining ½ cup feta cheese.