There’s a little place in Old City called Cafe Olé, just around the corner from where my office used to be. It’s one of the best lunch options in the area, mostly because they have plenty of vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. My order was usually a salad, but every time I went in I saw people with a big bowl of what looked like tomato sauce and smelled like heaven. It was only so long before I had to try the dish for myself, and that was my introduction to the wonderful world of shakshuka.
Shakshuka is a dish with a diverse ethnic background. Variations exist across different cultures, but it is generally a middle eastern and north African dish. Essentially, it is eggs poached in a tomato stew – a winning combination, but not something I had thought of before. It is traditionally served for breakfast, but for me, it is the perfect meal for anytime.
The basic tomato stew presents an opportunity for lots of additions. I’ve had versions with chickpeas, potatoes, spinach, mushrooms, and more. So when I had farm fresh eggs, a can of tomatoes, and an excess of eggplant that needed to be cooked, shakshuka was the answer. It is a great one pot vegetarian meal, and a flexible recipe to keep on hand when you’re looking to use up the veggies you have left from your CSA share.
Kitchen Sink Shakshuka
Makes 4 servings
• 2 tbsp olive oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1/2 lb of mixed mushrooms, cleaned and roughly chopped
• 1 spicy pepper, chopped (try a poblano or cubanelle)
• 2 eggplants, roughly chopped
• 1 tsp cumin
• 1 tsp coriander
• 1 tsp paprika
• 1 tsp oregano
• 1/4 tsp cayenne
• 1 28 oz. can of diced plum tomatoes
• salt and pepper to taste
• 6 large eggs
• cilantro for serving
1. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté onion until soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Add garlic, mushrooms, and pepper. Let cook for 2 minutes, then add eggplant, cumin, coriander, paprika, oregano, and cayenne. Sauté until all vegetables are soft and cooked through, adding more oil if necessary, about 20 minutes.
4. Pour in can of tomatoes and stir well. Add salt and pepper, then bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.
5. Use the back of a spoon to make small indents in the stew and gently crack an egg into each one. Season each egg with salt and pepper.
6. Carefully transfer the skillet into the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the eggs are set.
7. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, and serve with bread for sopping up the sauce!