If you had asked me a few years ago if I like shakshuka, I would have given you an ambivalent, “not-that-into-it” answer. But then I went camping with some friends and my friend Erika brought a skillet of shakshuka to heat over the fire for dinner. We tore a loaf of fresh bread into chunks and toasted them on sticks (like you would marshmallows), then used them as vessels to scoop the shakshuka into our hungry mouths. It was heavenly. Maybe it was the red wine or the fresh air or majestic Mt. Rainier in the moonlight, but I’ve been on a mission to create a shakshuka as delicious as we ate that night.
Shakshuka’s birthplace is nowhere near Seattle (much less North America) and most likely found its beginnings in Tunisia, Yemen, or Turkey. It’s now eaten all over the world, but is most popular in the Mediterranean region, especially Israel, and essentially consists of baked eggs in a savory tomato sauce with spices like cumin and paprika. It’s most commonly eaten as a breakfast dish, though I know plenty of people (including myself) who eat it for dinner. Here I’ve chosen to use smoked paprika and fire roasted tomatoes in reminiscence of when I fell in love with Shakshuka, over the fire.
SMOKY SHAKSHUKA WITH FETA
Adapted from NYT Cooking
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 medium yellow onions, thinly sliced
2 medium red bell peppers, de-seeded and sliced
2 large Anaheim chilies, de-seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
28 oz fire roasted diced tomatoes with juices
5 oz sheep feta, crumbled
Toppings and sides:
parsley, chopped (optional)
rustic loaf of bread
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, sliced onion, a pinch of salt, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add 2 more tablespoons olive oil, red bell pepper, Anaheim chilies, another pinch of salt, and cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add garlic, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper and cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add tomatoes and simmer on low heat for another 15 min, stirring occasionally.
- Make 4 wells in the shakshuka and crack an egg into each well. Put a lid on the skillet, raise the heat to medium, and let the eggs cook until whites are set and yolks cooked to your preference (this usually takes me another 5-8 min).
Serve shaksuka with crumbled feta, chopped parsley, dollops of hummus, and toasted slices of bread.
Shakshuka keeps well for a couple days in the fridge.