Breakfast for Dinner: Shakshuka

I fear I may be wading into choppy political waters by claiming that this traditional breakfast dish originates from any one place.  And I don’t want to do that.  It comes from somewhere in the Middle East.  And I will say no more about its origins.

I will however, tell you all about the flavours and contents of this gorgeous little gem of a meal.  It’s robust and filling, whilst being loaded full of bright colourful veg.  It requires a single frying pan. It takes less than thirty minutes to make.  Its got the sort of gentle spice to it that makes you feel all buzzy without your mouth feeling it’s on fire.  It’s cheap.  It’s definitely cheerful.

This the sort of meal I keep in my arsenal for those times when I need to plan a weeks worth of meals, but the thought of that makes me want to cry.  It’s an easy meal to have on permanent stand by.  An Old Faithful of meal that won’t let you down.  This is the foodie equivalent of that H&M dress that you bought for £7.99 and wear when you have no idea what else to wear because it’s comfy and looks nice and means you don’t have to think.  (You have one of those too, don’t you?)

According to a Jewish friend, eating Shashuka for dinner is ‘cray cray’.  I dispute this assertion.  Eating Shakshuka at any time is never anything other than a delight. And what’s wrong with being cray cray anyway?

Serves two

Ingredients:

  • A good glug of oil
  • One onion, red or white.
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 peppers (yellow look pretty.  Red are lovely.  Green would be my last choice here)
  • A tablespoon of harissa paste (or 1-2tsp Ras-al-Hanout spice mix, or a little shake each of cumin, coriander, cinnamon and paprika)
  • 1 400g tin chopped tomatoes.
  • Salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • Parsley to garnish (if you’re feeling fancy)
  • Flatbreads, pitta bread, baguettes to serve.

 

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Method:

  • Slice your onions and peppers, keeping them relatively chunky (onion into 6 wedges, peppers into 6-8 thick slices)
  • Heat the oil in a frying pan.
  • Add the onions and peppers to pan and turn the heat down really low.
  • Crush or finely slice the garlic and add to the pan with the harissa or Ras-al-Hanout to the pan.  Cook low and slow for about 15 mins, until the veg are really soft.  Don’t rush this bit because burnt onions and garlic are not that great.
  • Once your veg are soft, add your chopped tomatoes.  Stir all together.
  • Add a pinch of salt and 1/2 tsp sugar stir through.
  • Turn the heat up to a medium so the tomato sauce bubbles away and starts to thicken.  About 10 minutes.
  • Make four little holes in the sauce, so that you can see the bottom of the pan. Carefully crack an egg into each hole.
  • Turn the heat down really low and carefully cover the frying pan (with a lid, plate, baking sheet or tin foil.)  The idea is that you trap the steam in the pan and it cooks the tops of your eggs.
  • After about 6 minutes your egg will be cooked so that the whites are opaque.
  • If you’re serving this to a pregnant lady or someone who has a vulnerable immune system (or someone that just really dislikes runny eggs), just cook, covered, for another 5 minutes so that the egg is cooked solid.  It will still taste delicious.
  • Garnish with some chopped up parsley, if you fancy, with some bread of some description.

You can very easily make the sauce a few days in advance (up until the bit where you add the eggs), then heat it through a few minutes before you want eat and add the eggs.  If you’ve the foresight to do this it makes knocking together a nourishing and yummy meal very easy at the end of a long day.

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