Israeli Shakshuka with Peppers and Feta

Shakshuka, which means “all mixed up” in Hebrew, is a popular dish all over the middle east. The origin is debatable as each culture has their own version, but this adaptation is decidedly Israeli. It’s hearty, filling, and delicious.  It’s vegetarian too. I can’t sing it’s praises enough. I particularly love this in the winter time because it warms you from the inside out! Shakshuka is very similar to the Italian version called “Eggs in Purgatory”, but with a very different spice blend.

Eggs are a great alternative protein source for those of us watching our weight, and our wallets. They don’t have to be relegated to breakfast duty! Try this out for a light dinner. Shakshuka (how fun is it to say that word!?) is low-calorie AND low-budget. What more could you ask for? It’s also gluten free if you skip the bread. The three main ingredients here are eggs, tinned tomatoes, and spice. You can make this even when your fridge appears to be empty, which happens to me way too often.

I found some local, farm fresh, organic eggs at the market this week. The farm is mere miles from my home. They even specified on the package that the free-range chickens were fed local sunflower sprouts. How great! I’m glad to know that my eggs came from happy chickens. I knew the destiny of these eggs the minute I saw them.

Ingredients:

  • 1 28 oz can of whole plum tomatoes with liquid (I love San Marzano. They taste great every time)
  • 1 jalapeno or hot pepper of your choosing (fine mince) Adjust level level of heat here to your taste preference by adding more or less hot pepper.
  • 1 green bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 small brown onion (diced)
  • 4 cloves garlic (fine mince)
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin seed
  • 1/4 ground cinnamon
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 good quality eggs (room temp for even cooking)
  • Crumbled feta cheese to taste
  • Chopped flat leaf parsley for garnish
  • Crusty bread, pita, or challah (egg bread) for scooping/soaking up sauce

Directions:

  • Add onion, bell pepper, hot pepper to a large skillet with a  small amount of oil. Saute for 3-4 minutes on medium heat, or until onions are translucent, and the peppers begin to soften.
  • Add minced garlic, and all seasonings. Saute for 1 additional minute. Do not allow the garlic to brown (we don’t want any bitterness).
  • Add tomatoes and all of their juices to the pan along with 1/2 cup water.
  • While the liquid comes to a simmer, begin to break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon
  • Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 20 minutes to allow the flavors in the sauce to come together and sauce to thicken. Stir occasionally.
  • Using your spoon, make a hole for each egg in your sauce
  • Carefully crack one egg at a time into the indents
  • Cover pan and allow the steam from the sauce to poach the eggs for 4 minutes, opening halfway through and basting them with the tomato mixture. Eggs should be soft-poached with a cooked, but runny yolk.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool in the pan for a few more minutes before serving
  • Top with chopped parsley, crumbled feta, and serve with bread.

Recipe notes:

If you have a little wiggle room in your budget, splurge on high quality Italian canned tomatoes. I bought store brand one time for this dish and was quite disappointed. The tomatoes were severely lacking flavor and the meal suffered for it. It’s a gamble. I’ve had great store-brand tomatoes, and terrible ones. San Marzano has been really consistent with the quality and flavor level.

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