This recipe actually started off as a decoration on my bathroom wall! During the semester, my housemates and I would always bring home a copy of the Wednesday New York Times so that we could read the Dining section. I decided that the beautiful, color photographs of the food featured in the section would be the perfect material to spice up our bathroom with, so I started cutting out the pictures and pasting them on our bathroom wall. Probably a month after I had pasted the picture of Shakshuka on the wall, we finally tested the recipe! And LOOOVED it. So much so that the recipe found itself in my "best of the best" recipe scrapbook rather than the bathroom wall. Though the original recipe is fantastic, I've made a few adjustments/additions that I think really enhance the dish.

First and foremost, my version uses fresh tomatoes from the farmers market rather than canned plum tomatoes. Don't get me wrong- canned plum tomatoes are the way to go if you're talking canned tomatoes. But its summer and there is beautiful produce at the farmers market calling our names! But, if you make this in the winter when fresh tomatoes aren't available, feel free to substitute a 28 oz. can of plum tomatoes for the fresh tomatoes used here.

Secondly, I've added a couple more vegetables to the dish: mushrooms and spinach. It may be a less traditional version, but adding these extra veggies makes the freshness of the dish really pop. And, since there are five mouths to feed in our house, the larger size of the dish ensures that we are all pleasantly satiated:)

spinach, mushroom, and feta shakshuka

3 tablespooons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large onion, finely diced
1 large red bell pepper, seeded and roughly diced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/8 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
7-8 medium tomatoes
8-10 baby bella mushrooms, chopped
2 handfuls of spinach
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 1/4 cups crumbled feta
5 large eggs (or, the number of however many people you are serving)
Cilantro, for garnish

Heat the oven to 275 degrees. Heat the oil in a large, oven-proof skillet or casserole over medium-low heat. Add the onion and bell pepper. Cook gently until very soft, about 20 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until tender, one to two minutes. Stir in cumin, paprika, and cayenne, and cook for one minute. Pour in the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms and simmer until the tomatoes have thickened, about 20 minutes (or about 10 if you are using canned tomatoes). Stir in the spinach and crumbled feta. Gently crack the eggs into the skillet over the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the eggs are just set, 7 to ten minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with hot sauce.

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