Summer has come to an end, and with it, I harvested the last of this season’s tomatoes, peppers, chiles and eggplant in my garden. Not sure how to prepare this bounty, I started looking at some of my cookbooks. The Shakshuka recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Plenty” cookbook looked perfect. Having everything the recipe called for on hand, I decided to give this a try. I even had some Za’atar in my spice cabinet. It is a mixture of sesame seeds, thyme, sumac and salt. Some Za’atar blends contain other herbs as well. Sprinkled over the finished dish, it adds the perfect tang!
Shakshuka originated in Tunesia, but countless variations are very popular all across the Middle East. Most basic recipes call for onions, red bell peppers and tomatoes. I added eggplant, since I wanted to use the last ones from the garden. Good quality vegetables will make this dish shine! This is quick and easy to make, especially if you chop and slice as you go along. That’s how I cook.
The Shakshuka turned out incredibly delicious, with leftovers for the next day.
Here is the recipe:
- good quality olive oil
- 2 large red onions, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1 medium eggplant, washed and cubed
- 4 large red bell peppers, washed and sliced
- 1 or 2 finely minced chile peppers, if you like a little kick, or a little cayenne
- 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar
- 4 bay leaves
- some fresh sprigs of thyme
- 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
- 6 to 8 large tomatoes, washed and coarsely chopped
- a pinch or two of saffron
- salt and pepper
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups water
- a can of garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained or 1 egg per person
- Za’atar for garnish
Heat a large, heavy sauté pan over high heat.
Add a little olive oil and swirl it around the pan.
Add the sliced onions and sauté until they start getting soft and a little brown.
Add the eggplant. Stir and continue to cook on high for about 5 to 7 minutes.
Add the peppers, chile peppers, sugar, bay leaves, thyme and parsley.
Sauté for another 10 minutes until everything is nicely browned, but not burned.
Next, add the tomatoes, saffron, a little salt and some freshly ground pepper.
Stir, turn down the flame to low and simmer for about 20 minutes.
Add a little water if it is too thick, but you don’t want it too soupy.
Shakshuka is supposed to be very flavorful. Adjust seasoning to your liking.
Next, remove the bay leaves and either add the garbanzo beans if you like, and simmer covered for another 10 minutes.
Or, if you opt for eggs, make indentations in the vegetables and crack one raw egg into each well.
Cover the pan, and simmer on low until the eggs are set, about 10 minutes.
Serve with Israeli couscous or some good crusty bread.
Sprinkle each serving with some Za’atar and enjoy!