Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Shakshuka [Sarah's Guest Post!]

I was irrationally excited when Emily invited me to write this guest post for her blog. I love Em’s blog, and I am so excited to share this recipe for shakshuka! It is easily my #1 go-to dinner, and there are so many reasons why you should try it. Most importantly it is DELICIOUS. Beyond that, it is healthy, easy to make (only 30ish minutes!), vegetarian if that’s your thing, and it minimizes clean-up time because you can wash most of the dishes while it’s simmering.

I originally got this recipe from food blog titan Smitten Kitchen, which describes shakshuka as an Israeli dish of poached eggs in spicy tomato sauce. Others think the origins of shakshuka are Lebanese. Wherever it comes from, all experts agree that you should make it immediately. Thanks again Emily for asking me to post!

Here are a few things to keep in mind before making shakshuka:
  • Shakshuka is saucy, so serve it in a bowl rather than a plate.
  • The Smitten Kitchen recipe suggests serving it with pitas, but since the pitas you can buy at the grocery store are not puffy, I’ve always served it with crusty bread instead. I think you need the fluff for dipping and mopping up the spicy sauce. If you are ambitious you could bake your own bread (ahem, Emily), or you could just pick up your favorite crusty, fluffy bread at the store. If you want, warm it in the oven while the shakshuka is cooking.
  • Sometimes your shakshuka will be spicy and sometimes it won’t be. There’s just no way to tell if a jalapeno is spicy by looking at it, as far as I know.
  • If you are planning to save some for leftovers (which I HIGHLY recommend - best lunch ever), make sure you don’t overcook the eggs, unless you’re weirded out by runny eggs. If they are more cooked the first time, when you heat it up the second day the eggs can sometimes get a little bit overcooked. You could also avoid putting in all 6 eggs initially and just poach them in already-cooked sauce the following day, but that sort of defeats the purpose of being able to have a quick, portable lunch (of paramount importance to those of us in law school, and really, everyone).

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serves 4-6 (in my experience, serves 2 for both a hearty dinner and a light lunch the next day)

¼ cup olive oil
3 jalapenos, seeded and finely chopped (leave some seeds in for more spicy potential)
1 small yellow onion, chopped
5 cloves garlic, crushed and sliced
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 28-oz can whole tomatoes, do NOT drain (I usually use Muir Glen organic)
6 large eggs
Kosher salt to taste
½ cup feta, crumbled (I just dump in however much I feel like)
1-2 tablespoons chopped parsley (flat leaf or curley is fine)*

*About the parsley - I actually think it adds a lot of freshness to this dish, whereas in others it’s just a garnish and doesn’t make much of a difference. I’ve forgotten it plenty of times and it’s always better when I include it.

Chop the onion and stem, seed and finely chop the jalapenos. Heat oil in a large pot or 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add the jalapenos and the onion and stir until the onion starts to brown, about 6 minutes. While the onion and jalapenos cook, prepare the garlic and tomatoes as follows.

Crush and slice the garlic. Open the canned tomatoes and pour them into a bowl. Then add ½ cup water to the bowl and crush the tomatoes with your hands.  Be careful! This can easily stain your clothes. I recommend putting the bowl in the sink so any juices that spurt just end up in the sink. Put the tomatoes aside.

Once the onion has started to brown, add the garlic, paprika and cumin. Stir it around a lot and smell it, because it smells amazing. Cook and stir for about 2 minutes, until the garlic is soft.

Add the tomatoes with their juice and the ½ cup water. Stir and lower heat to medium. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes. (This is a great time to clean some dishes, make a salad, set the table, etc). Chop up some parsley, and get out your eggs. Season the sauce with salt to taste.

Crack eggs over the surface of the sauce so they are evenly distributed (usually a circle of 5 with 1 egg in the middle). Cover the skillet and cook about 5-6 minutes, until the yolks of the eggs are set. If you don’t have a tight fitting lid, use aluminum foil - it may take longer for the eggs to cook because some air is escaping. Use a spoon to swirl the whites around with the sauce, without disrupting the yolks. Sprinkle parsley and feta into the shakshuka. Serve in bowls with crusty bread or fluffy pitas!