Shakshuka

  • 4 large ripe tomatoes
  • 2 Tb. olive oil (approximately)
  • 1 small yellow onion, sliced
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika (sweet or smoked)
  • ½ – 1 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional, to taste)
  • 8 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste (optional, if you’ve already got an open can)
  • salt to taste
  • lemon juice and/or a pinch of sugar
  • 4-8 large eggs
  • Parsley or cilantro, for garnishing
  • Greek yogurt or feta cheese, if you like

Cut the tomatoes in half horizontally (along “the equator”). Using the large holes of a box grater set over a bowl, grate the tomato so that all the flesh and juices go into the bowl, and all that’s left in your hand is the skin. Set aside.

Heat the oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium-high. Sauté the onion the oil for 3-4 minutes, until the onion has softened. Add the spices (cumin, paprika, red pepper) and a sprinkle of salt, and cook for 30 more seconds.

Add the garlic and bell pepper, and sauté for another minute or two.

Add the tomato and tomato paste to the skillet and stir to mix everything together. Let cook and simmer until the sauce is thickened. Taste and adjust seasoning. (Does it need more salt? A pinch of sugar or a squeeze of lemon? It should be very delicious.)

Use the back of your spoon to make indentations in the sauce. Crack 1-2 eggs per person into the indentations. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, until the egg white begins to set.

Cover the pan, and continue to simmer. Check after 3 minutes to see if the eggs are cooked. Traditionally, the egg whites should be set but the yolks should be runny. However, you should cook the egg the way you like to eat it. It may take another 2-3 minutes.

Season the top of the eggs with salt. Garnish with sprinkle of parsley or cilantro, and put yogurt and/or feta on the table for people to add if they like. Serve with fresh bread or toast to mop up the sauce.

Endless variations: Add diced zucchini or eggplant or sliced potatoes when the onions are cooking. Use a green bell pepper instead of the red, or substitute a chili pepper like a mild Anaheim or a spicier Jalapeño. Try adding thyme or coriander. Leave out the onion and double or triple the garlic.

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