I am really bad with cookbooks: I love them, but I never seem to find the time to use them. How nice would it be to have a pantry full of all the possible ingredients, then pick up a recipe at random and say “today I am going to cook / bake this!”.
The reality is that I am always busy and running around so my meal planning consists in whatsapping my husband at 6pm asking “what do you want for dinner?”. In 4 years of living together, he answered the question only a couple of times with something vague like “pasta?” (and a question mark to imply that he doesn’t really care, I can cook whatever I want). Yet I keep asking the question, it makes me feel like I’m not the one making the all food decisions in the house!
Anyway, long story short: last Saturday I decided to spend the day at home working on my blog, but then – like the great procrastinator that I am – I started thinking about baking a cake. I looked for a baking recipe on Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook (spoiler: there aren’t any baking recipes) and this Shakshuka caught my attention.
I love middle eastern cuisine, which is becoming very popular here in London thanks to Ottolenghi’s recipes, restaurants like Honey & Co., Palomar and Arabica, and cookbooks like Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour.
Also, my husband and I have started the #Whole30 program yesterday, so I’m on the lookout for exciting ways of cooking with eggs. Although this recipe is not strictly paleo or suitable for the Whole30 program because of the vegetable oil and muscovado sugar, it can be easily adapted for it.
This Shakshuka was a success and I’m certainly going to make it again. Having a lazy weekend brunch at home is such a treat, especially when you have a lovely husband that prepares you a delicious cup of coffee!
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 150ml vegetable oil
- 1 white onion, sliced
- 2 shallots, sliced
- 2 yellow and 1 red peppers, cut into strips
- 3 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
- 4 thyme sprigs, leaves picked and chopped
- 2 tbsp parsley, chopped
- 4-5 ripe tomatoes, roughly chopped
- 1/2 tsp saffron threads
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- 6 free-range eggs
In a very large pan dry-roast the cumin seeds on a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the oil and onions and saute for 5 minutes.
Add the peppers, sugar and herbs and continue cooking on a high heat for 5-10 minutes to get a nice colour.
Add the tomatoes, saffron, cayenne and some salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. The original recipe says to add water at this stage to obtain a pasta sauce consistency, but my tomatoes were already watery so I didn’t feel the need to add more liquid.
Taste and adjust the seasoning. It should be potent and flavoursome. You can prepare this mix in advance.
Turn the heat to medium, then make gaps in the pepper mix and carefully break an egg into each gap. Sprinkle with salt and cover the pan with a lid.
Cook on a very gentle heat for 10-12 minutes, or until the eggs are just set. It’s a fine line between eggs that are still runny and eggs that are slightly overcooked.
Be careful not to overcook otherwise the peppers and tomatoes will burn at the bottom of the skillet.
Before serving, top the shakshuka with chopped parsley and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.