A few weeks ago I had the distinct pleasure of attending Whole Grain Mornings, a cooking class at The Pantry, taught by Megan Gordon from A Sweet Spoonful. She spoke about the basic logistics of cooking with whole grains, concentrating on that first, oh so important meal of the day. We recreated a few dishes from her new cookbook, Whole Grain Mornings, and one in particular stuck with me for its ease and tantalizingly tempting aroma.
According to my sources , shakshuka is a Middle Eastern dish and is basically a spiced tomato stew with baked eggs on top. It seems to be very loose in its interpretations as I looked up quite a few different versions trying to find just the one I was in the mood for. They each had the same basic elements but included different spices or some extra ingredients. So I invented my own while being inspired by Megan, Smitten Kitchen and Clementine Daily’s versions.Though it has eggs, its heaviness and spiciness make me crave it more at dinner time, but by all means eat it whenever. It will fill your home with warmth, joy and spice.
This was a one pan dish, which is always a plus right? Tip: it makes it much easier if you set up your mise en place before you start since things will cook fairly quickly and you don’t want to be stressed trying to chop and stir and measure all at once.
Chop up a large onion and a leek. I would also have used a shallot and some sort of spicy pepper but I didn’t have one on hand. Heat up some olive oil in a large pan ( I love my cast iron skillet). Once hot, toss in the onion, leek, shallot and peppers. Cook until just slightly browned. Add thinly sliced garlic. I used 3 cloves but use however many you please. Stir it up. Dice a zucchini and add it to the mixture . Add a glug of olive oil if you think it needs it. As these cook up nicely, add a couple pinches of dried thyme and fennel seeds.
This will be smelling incredible about now so get excited. Add a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes and a couple small spoonfuls of tomato paste. Let simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it gets nice and thick. While its simmering, its time to spice it up! Add some cumin, red chili flakes, sea salt, black pepper, capers, fresh parsley and tarragon and maybe even a sprinkling of saffron if you want to be fancy. Taste and adjust to your preferences.
Once the stew is nice and thick, stir in a handful of kale for a minute until it wilts. Make a few little pools on top and crack eggs into them. Scatter crumbled feta on top and stick in a hot oven for 6-8minutes until the whites are just about cooked. I finished it with about 2 minutes under the broiler to just brown the cheese. I suggest keeping the egg yolks runny. Finish up with a sprinkling of fresh parsley and serve with toasty, crusty bread.