My first was flat and round and mostly overcooked. It was poured onto a griddle from a plastic pitcher, the kind used to serve cheap beer. It came wrapped around chopped deli ham and oozed yellow cheddar. The line cook laid it on a well-worn cafeteria plate.
I didn’t realize it then, I was only a freshman in college, but my life changed that day.
That’s a big, bold statement when all I’m talking about are eggs. One might be so inclined to say I’m being a bit overdramatic. I guess they might have a point. Except for the fact that we’re talking about eggs. EGGS!
We’re talking about the poor man’s truffle. We’re talking about lusciously decadent protein that comes in a little affordable shell. We’re talking about something that can be scrambled or fried. Something that can be boiled or simmered. Something that can be licked off a plate, as such is the necessity when you serve a particularly runny poached egg.
Now, I get that I sound a bit crazy. But then again I am a bit crazy. Garrett, the hubby, says, “Every girl’s a bit crazy. As a man, it just comes down to what kind of crazy you like.”
So I guess, there it is. I’m egg crazy. Thank goodness he likes egg crazy.
On weekdays it’s a little bit tough to let my egg crazy loose. But on the weekends, it’s a no-holds barred ordeal at our house. I make hash and strata. I make frittatas and waffles (topped with eggs of course). I make salsa eggs and quiche.
Which brings me to today’s recipe – Shakshuka. This is a Middle Eastern dish. I first read about it on Food & Wine. And then again on Smitten Kitchen. When it popped up on The Guardian and then again on my Facebook newsfeed in a Bon Appétit article, it seemed the recipe gods were trying to tell me something.
I pulled a little inspiration from each recipe. Dabbling with ingredients here and there, mostly based on what I actually had on hand. The results were addicting, made especially so by the eggs that I simmered for just long enough to let the whites set.
It makes a fantastic topping for chicken and a great addition to rice. I also, maybe, stood in front of the stove and ate the veggie mix straight from the pan. (Don’t judge.)
Serves 2 – 3
If you aren’t a heat person, you might want to skip this one. This dish is definitely spicy. It can be taken down a notch by leaving out a jalapeno or Serrano. You can also serve it with some Greek yogurt. Just be careful not to cut out all the heat. Doing so will ruin the essence of the dish.
It’s also worth noting, the longer you simmer the sauce the better it will be. Simply add more water as needed to keep it from over reducing. You might even consider making it in advance. It will keep for a few days and can easily be pulled out and reheated.
3 TBS olive oil
1 medium white onion, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
1 fennel bulb, cored and thinly sliced
Salt and pepper
2 jalapenos, seeded and chopped
2 Serrano chilies, seeded and chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 28-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 cup water
2 TBS smoked paprika
½ TBS cayenne
½ TBS cumin
6 large eggs
3 slices thick, crusty bread
2 TBS fresh herbs, chopped (cilantro or flat leaf parsley work nicely)
½ cup crumbled feta (or more, if you’re cheesy like that)
Heat olive oil in a heavy bottom fry pan. Add onions and fennel. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sauté over medium heat until translucent and soft (roughly 10 minutes).
Add jalapenos, Serrano chilies, and bell pepper. Sauté until tender (about 5 minutes). Add garlic. Sauté until fragrant (about 1 minute).
Add tomatoes, paprika, cayenne, cumin, and water.
Bring to a simmer. Cover with lid and let simmer for at least 20 minutes. Remove lid and continue simmering until mixture has thickened and resembles a heavy stew.
Crack eggs into pan, evenly dispersing them. Cover pan and allow eggs to simmer until whites set.
Note: I often pull the lid off three to four times and wipe it dry with a paper towel.
While eggs are cooking, toast bread.
Sprinkle eggs with herbs and feta. Serve immediately.