Color naming

Shakshuka recipes deliver flavor, color and protein

Shakshuka egg recipes deliver flavor, color and protein. Photo by Bill St. John for UCHealth.

One good thing about getting older (I’m 72) is that surprises mean more.

My young friends were talking about a dish called “shakshuka” and for my life I thought it was some form of sushi. Another thing about aging is that regrets can also mean more. I find myself to be that rare person who has not been served shakshuka (also spelled shakshouka). After tasting and sharing these recipes with friends and neighbors, I regret it. Shakshuka, spoons down, is a tasty meal.

Disputes surround both the name and origin of shakshuka, with almost everyone pointing out that the two central ingredients of the traditional recipe – tomatoes and sweet peppers – would not have reached the regions where shakshuka is widely consumed today, both in the Middle East and the Maghreb (north-west of Africa), until well after Christopher Columbus and the Colombian Stock Exchange. The latter is that vast sharing of foods from the New World with the Old (and vice versa) made possible only by the voyages of Christopher Columbus and those who followed him.

The name “shakshuka” may come from a Berber Arabic word meaning “mixture” and any shakshuka is certainly that. In addition, any recipe lends itself to almost infinite variations within it.

So experiment with these recipes yourself by adding or correcting spices, various meats, if desired, such as ground lamb, sausages or pieces of poultry, different vegetables or cheeses and garnishes. Or keep it completely vegetarian. You could even scramble the eggs for a version of a Turkish “shakshuka” called menemen.

Although I prefer my shakshuka eggs to runny yolks, you can err on the side of caution and cook yours until firm.

Also, for the red version, try not to use canned diced tomatoes. Almost all brands of canned diced tomatoes contain calcium chloride, which helps keep diced tomatoes firm, like little cubes. You don’t want that; you want a smooth, thick, slightly thick sauce under those eggs.

It would be best to use whole, canned, peeled tomatoes, the best you can afford. Mash them, as the recipe calls for.

red shakshuka recipe

Adapted from seriouseats.com and cooking.nytimes.com. For 4 to 6 people.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons fruity olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, sliced ​​along its “poles”

1 large red bell pepper, stem, seeds and ribs removed, thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced ​​or minced

1 tablespoon sweet paprika powder

3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder, or more to taste

1 tsp kosher or sea salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 can 28 oz whole peeled tomatoes (see note)

1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, tossed with cilantro

6 large eggs

directions

Using a large heavy-bottomed stainless steel or cast iron skillet (at least 10 inches, preferably 12 inches), heat the oil over medium-high heat and cook the onion and bell pepper, uncovered, until noticeably softened and beginning to brown or black in spots, about 8-9 minutes. Add garlic and, stirring, cook 90 seconds longer, then make a clearance in the center and add spices and seasonings, stirring until fragrant, about 45 seconds longer. Mix them with the onion, bell pepper and garlic.

Add the tomatoes, crushing them well with your hands as you pour them into the pan, or alternatively, mash them with a potato masher or pastry blender once they are in the pan . Reduce heat to a slow simmer, stirring mixture once or twice, cook for 10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 of the cilantro and parsley (keep the remaining 1/2 for garnish) and mix well.

Make 6 wells with the back of a large spoon, 5 around the perimeter of the shakshuka and 1 in the center. In each well, gently break an egg, pushing the edges of the whites that want to run away towards their yolks. Lower the heat to low and cover the pan.

After 5 minutes, lightly tap the tops of the yolks to see how far they have come and, if necessary, continue to cook covered. Serve garnished with the remaining 1/2 cilantro and parsley scattered around.

Plenty of options abound to shake up your shakshuka recipes.  Try this green version.  Photo by Bill St. John for UCHealth.
Plenty of options abound to shake up your shakshuka recipes. Try this green version. Photo by Bill St. John for UCHealth.

Green shakshuka recipe

Adapted from cooking.nytimes.com, themediterraneandish.com and downshiftology.com. For 4 to 6 people.

Ingredients

3 tablespoons fruity olive oil

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and sliced ​​along its “poles”

4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced ​​or minced

3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds

3/4 teaspoon coriander powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher or sea salt

3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 Brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed, cored and finely grated or very thinly sliced

9 cups mixed baby spinach and baby kale (see note)

1 teaspoon crushed Aleppo (or Urfa or Mexican) red pepper

Juice of 1/2 lemon, seeded

1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves and tender stems, chopped

1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped, tossed with cilantro

6 large eggs

1/2 avocado, peeled and thinly sliced ​​lengthwise

1/2-3/4 cup cotija cheese, crumbled, to taste

1 medium jalapeño, thinly sliced ​​into “pieces” or rounds

1 large green onion, sliced, white and light green parts only

directions

Using a large heavy-bottomed stainless steel or cast iron skillet (at least 10 inches, preferably 12 inches), heat the oil over medium-high heat and cook the onion, uncovered, until it softens noticeably and begins to brown or black in spots, about 8-9 minutes. Add the garlic and, stirring, cook an additional 90 seconds, then make a clearing in the center and add the cumin, cilantro, salt and pepper, stirring until fragrant, about 45 seconds moreover. Mix them with the onion and garlic.

Add the Brussels sprouts and start tossing everything with tongs. After 5 minutes, add the greens by handfuls and wilt each batch, turning again with the tongs, until all the greens have entered. Sprinkle with lemon juice. (If the greens haven’t released much water and the pan seems dry, add 1/2 cup water, then 1/4 cup more if needed. Over medium-low heat, the contents of the skillet should now be simmering to edges.)

Make 6 wells with the back of a large spoon, 5 around the perimeter of the greens and 1 in the center. In each well, gently break an egg, pushing the edges of the whites that want to run away towards their yolks. Lower the heat to low and cover the pan.

After 5 minutes, lightly tap the tops of the yolks to see how far they have come and, if necessary, continue to cook covered. Garnish with the remaining ingredients however you fancy.

To note: This mix is ​​readily available in large plastic containers in many grocery store sections, or you can mix your own. Or use a mix of other moderately robust greens such as stemmed chard leaves or tender black or red Russian kale.

Contact Bill St John at [email protected]