We are coming up on the week of both Passover and Easter, a time when hope Springs eternal (that’s a seasonal pun). 😉
As such, I post this recipe from Israel, with deep roots in the Arab world and enjoyed equally by the country’s Jewish, Muslim and Christian population.
Food is one of the few things that can truly unite humanity, in my humble opinion. Sharing this dish around the communal table and enjoying a meal is universal and transcends religion, borders and all our differences.
One can hope – and I do.
Shakshuka (Arabic: شكشوكة; Hebrew: שקשוקה and means “mixed up” in this language) is a dish that has its origins in Tunisia and migrated to Israel with the many Tunisian Jews who settled there. It is basically a spicy sauce of tomatoes, greens, onions and garlic with several over-easy eggs cooked into it that is a beloved breakfast recipe.
The egg mixes with the spicy sauce and when sopped up with a hunk of bread – a burst of pure gustatory delight!
My version is especially delicious as it uses my own spice blend and herbs for additional flavor complexity. I know you will enjoy this taste of Israel – please partake and join me in the hope of peace in our time, Citizens!
Battle on – The Generalissimo
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1 habanero chile pepper (or to taste), stemmed, sliced in half and deseeded, finely diced/minced
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
¾ teaspoon freshly ground caraway seeds
¾ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon freshly ground fenugreek seed
Two 14-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons sage honey
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 cup loosely packed greens, such as radish greens, watercress, kale, Swiss chard, or spinach, coarsely chopped
Chopped fresh thyme to taste
Chopped fresh basil to taste
4 to 6 top-quality eggs
1. In a wide skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, yellow bell peppers and the crushed garlic and cook for 5 minutes, until soft and wilted. Add the chile pepper, the salt, pepper, and spices. Cook for a minute, stirring constantly, to release their fragrance.
2. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, honey, sliced garlic and vinegar, reduce the heat to medium, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened somewhat but is still relatively loose. Stir in the chopped greens.
3. Turn off the heat and make indentations in the sauce. Crack an egg into each indentation, then drag a spatula gently through the egg whites so it mingles a bit with the tomato sauce, being careful not to disturb the yolks.
Turn the heat back on so the sauce is at a gentle simmer, and cook for about 10 minutes, taking some of the tomato sauce and basting the egg whites from time-to-time. Cover, and cook 3 to 5 minutes, until the eggs are cooked to your liking – the egg yolks should still be runny, ideally. Sprinkle with a goodly amount of chopped fresh thyme and basil.
Serve with lots of crusty bread for sopping up the sauce.