There are plenty of stories about shakshuka, a popular Middle Eastern one-pan meal that is said to have its origins in North Africa. We haven’t quite distilled its history to a factual T, but we do know that myriad versions of the dish abound.
In places like Israel and Tunisia, it is as simple as eggs poached in tomato sauce. Some recipes call for chopped green bell peppers, while others include dried salted lamb. Whatever the variation, we think this is the perfect one-dish meal that can be eaten any time of day (though breakfast or brunch seem the most apt given all those gorgeously runny eggs). Plus, clean-up is a cinch. We’ve used minced beef in this recipe, but you can swap that for white beans instead if you want to keep it vegetarian. Throw in the red bell peppers or don’t. This really is a base recipe that you can tweak to make your own. Just be sure to have a good loaf of crusty bread on hand to mop it all up with.
Shakshuka, serves 2 to 4
2 tbsp olive oil
2 medium red onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, diced
300g minced beef
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp paprika
¼ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground turmeric
400g diced or crushed canned tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp honey
1 tsp red wine or cider vinegar
1 cup loosely packed spinach, coarsely chopped
40g feta cheese, cut into small cubes
1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and add the onions and garlic. Fry for about 2 minutes, then add the red bell pepper.
2. Fry for about 8 minutes, until the onions and peppers are soft. Then add the beef. Fry for about 6 minutes, then add the salt, pepper, paprika, cumin and turmeric.
3. Stir-fry the mixture so that everything is combined evenly. Then add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, honey and vinegar.
4. Lower the heat and cook for about 12 to 15 minutes, until the mixture starts to thicken slightly. Stir in the chopped spinach.
5. Turn off the heat and press the cubes of feta into the tomato sauce.
6. Use the back of a wooden spoon to make four indentations in the sauce and then break an egg into each indentation. Use your spatula to smoothen down any egg whites that are too “high” above the sauce. This will help the eggs to cook more evenly.
7. Place the skillet in the centre of a 180°C oven and bake till the egg whites are just set and the yolks runny, about 8 minutes. Serve hot with bread on the side.
Cook the minced beef sauce up to three days earlier and store in the fridge. Simply reheat on the stove, add cheese and eggs, and bake as needed.