Shakshuka !

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Besides really enjoying saying the name of this dish (note the exclamation mark), I’m in love with this. . .   Couldn’t be easier to prepare and has endless versions waiting to be created !

A summer favourite for a healthy lunch or dinner.  In France it it more common to have your eggs for those meals than for breakfast but I think this dish is sweeping the western world as THE brunch dish of the moment.

Shakshuka has its origins in Tunisia, but has been adopted by many other countries for so long now that they call it their own as well (Israel for example).  Basically it is a dish of eggs poached in a sauce made with peppers and tomatoes (sometimes onions) and usually cumin.  It is so forgiving, as you will see in my the photo of the finished dish here, I overcooked the eggs AGAIN and its still fabulous.  The above shot is from the book JERUSALEM by Yotam Ottolenghi and is how its supposed to look 😉

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This is the perfect time of year, with tomatoes and peppers nice and ripe.  I have tried a few versions of this recipe but come back this one (good old Ottolenghi) often. Harissa is nice, I’ve made my own but this is the best shop bought brand.

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Tip:  If you take some regular plain yoghurt and plop it into a cheese cloth or tea towel over a bowl and leave it to drain for a few hours (even an hour or so is enough), you get thick Greek style yoghurt which is great to top Shakshuka.

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Let me count the reasons to love a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe, but one is that he often gives you the weight of an ingredient, such as eggs.  I find this so important for some preparations and here you will find the weights for the peppers and tomatoes.  If you could have seen one of my beefsteak tomatoes this summer, it was 800g on its own.  So what does “5 large tomatoes mean”?  Very helpful.

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After you have fallen in love with Shakshuka, as I have, here are some ingredients you may want to play around with:  onions, feta, chopped courgettes, potatoes, different coloured peppers, a touch of sugar, a touch of lemon juice, crumbled chorizo or merguez sausages, fresh chopped chili, parsley, paprika (smoked or not).

To be served simply with your favourite dipping vehicle such as crusty bread or flatbreads.

Shakshuka Servings=2 as a main meal

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons harissa paste (optional and use less if not big on spicy !)
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 large red peppers, cut into dice (2 cups / 300 g in total)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon toasted ground cumin
5 large, very ripe tomatoes, chopped (5 cups / 800 g in total); canned are also fine
4 large free-range eggs
1/2 cup / 120 g labneh or thick yogurt
Salt and a handful of chopped coriander (aka cilantro) to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and add the  harissa, tomato paste, peppers, garlic, cumin, and 3/4 teaspoon salt. Stir and cook over medium heat for about 8 minutes to allow the peppers to soften. Add the tomatoes, bring to a gentle simmer, and cook for a further 10 minutes until you have quite a thick sauce. Taste for seasoning.

Make 4 little dips in the sauce. Gently break the eggs and carefully pour each into its own dip. Use a fork to swirl the egg whites a little bit with the sauce, taking care not to break the yolks. Simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes, until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny (you can cover the pan with a lid if you wish to hasten the process). Remove from the heat, leave for a couple of minutes to settle, then spoon into individual plates and serve with the labneh or yogurt.

***Directly adapted from a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe in his book Jerusalem

Solar oven notes: If your solar oven is nice and hot (at least 120°C) you can follow the directions as above.  Good idea to use a transparent lid or none at all so you can monitor the cooking process with out opening the oven all the time.

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